Lady’s Slipper Orchid Facts
- First of all, the truly beautiful and diverse Lady’s Slipper Orchid family contains more than 50 species. In addition, over 30 of these claim North America as their native habitat range.
- In addition to the diversity of its family, each species varies from other orchids in a unique way. They have been classified as diandrous. Each of these unique plants has two fertile anthers, rather than one, like other orchids.
- While climate change and habitat loss threaten many plants worldwide, many of these species remain somewhat fortunate. This occurs because twelve species occur on protected National Forest System lands, in the United States.
- This family has nearly disappeared from the extreme western portion of its range. In Great Britain, while the site remains carefully guarded, only one small population of a single species remains extant.
Lady’s Slipper Orchid Physical Description
Most notably, the various species of the beautiful Lady’s Slipper Orchid family vary significantly in appearance. However, each member of the genus possesses many general characteristics with the others.
Each remains characterized by the presence of slipper-shaped pouches on the flowers, and the role these play in pollination. The stems of the different species also range in height from 8-28 in (20-70 cm) and usually support 1-2 flowers, yet 3 appear occasionally.
It presents a wide variety of colors, including pink, red, brown, white, yellow, and purple. Meanwhile, the leaves of most species display a unique light green color, which further sets it apart from most orchids.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophyta
- Class: Liliopsida
- Order: Orchidales
- Family: Orchidaceae
- Genus: Cypripedium
Lady’s Slipper Orchid Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Firstly, the gorgeous Lady’s Slipper Orchid family has a rather extensive habitat range. That holds true because this primarily includes North America and parts of Asia and Europe, as well. The various species inhabit temperate, boreal, and tropical forests.
While its beauty awes its admirers, its growth rate presents problems for those attempting to preserve the family. Experts rank it as among the slowest-growing plants known to man. Individuals often require as much as 11 years of growth before maturing and producing flowers.
Furthermore, it only reproduces via propagation and rhizomes, not with tubers as well, like other orchids. In addition, the tiny seeds rely upon a symbiotic association with a mycorrhizal fungus for germination. This makes efforts to artificially propagate the family difficult.