Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule)

Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule) 

The Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule), also known as Pink Lady's Slipper or White Lady's Slipper, is a forb/herb in the Orchid Family (Orchidaceae) and order Orchidales. The genus name is derived from the Latin for "Venus slipper." The species name comes from the Latin for "stem." This plant can grow to 15 inches ( 38 centimeters) high. The flower consists of a prominent inflated, moccasin-like lip with a fissure on the top front and green to brown sepals and petals spreading out from the top of the lip.  The petals are narrower than the sepals. Each white to pink flower lip is about two and one half inches (7 centimeters) long. The pink variety has prominent red veins on the lip. The white variety may also exhibit red veins on the lip. This plant flowers from April to July. Both varieties are common around French Hill Pond.

Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule) Detail

The leaves are basal, oval to elliptical, up to eight inches (20 centimeters) long and in pairs. They have prominent ribbing are dark green above and have silvery hairs beneath.

The fruit is a one and three quarter-inch (4.5 centimeter) capsule with three chambers.

 The root system is rhizomic.

This beautiful plant is difficult to propagate and should not be disturbed.

The following photographs show the white variety of this plant. All the photographs on this page were taken to the east of French Hill Pond.

White Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule)

White Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule) Detail

The genus Cypripedium has four other species that may be found around French Hill Pond. The showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae) is similar to the Moccasin Flower but the sepals and side petals are white and the lip is more bulbous. The Ram's Head Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium arietinum) is also similar to the Moccasin Flower but the lip is smaller and pointed. The Lesser Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) and Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviforum var. pubescens) are both yellow forms of the Moccasin Flower. Yellow Lady's Slippers have been observed east of French Hill Pond. The Ram's Head Lady's Slipper is listed as an endangered species in Maine. The Showy Lady's Slipper is listed as a threatened species in Maine. Cypripedium orchids should not be disturbed.

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