Every spring, usually in the late part of May through the first few weeks in June, this lovely flower graces my parent's garden with beautiful yellow flowers. This plant is a type of orchid called the Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum). According the Minnesota DNR Website there are:

"Two varieties of Yellow Lady-slippers in Minnesota. Perennial to 23" tall. One to several stems in a clump. Leaves 2 to 6 per stem, ovate, 3"-8" long. One to two flowers per stem; flowers with conspicuous yellow inflated pouch (or lady’s slipper); bloom in May-June. Found most often in mesic (moderate moisture) hardwoods and conifer swamps, occasionally in roadside ditches."

I can tell that my parents have the smaller variety of Cypripedium parviflorum Regardless, I think the MN DNR website I think incorrectly identifies these Yellow Lady Slipper's as being Cypripedium calceolus, but from doing a little more research I think this is incorrect because at Wikipedia (even though it is not the best source in the world) it says:
"Cypripedium calceolus sensu stricto ("in the strict sense") does not occur in North America. The closely related Cypripedium parviflorum and C. pubescens are often still referred to as subspecies or variety of C. calceolus."
and to further suggest that the MN DNR is incorrect is this link from the USDA which labels it as being Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb. or the Lesser Yellow Lady's Slipper.

I was concerned that this plant might be illegal to possess outside of it's natural habitat, but through some research it was determined that "...yellow lady’s-slippers are not listed as rare species in Minnesota" and are therefore supposedly not protected from collection or harvest by the state Endangered Species Act in the State of Minnesota, which is good.

I don't recall ever seeing Yellow Lady's Slippers out in the woods, but then again I probably haven't looked that closely. Nevertheless, I think they are a beautiful flower, even though they might not be as pretty as their cousin the Showy Lady's Slipper or Cypripedium reginae (photo on the right). The Showy Lady's Slipper is the State Flower of Minnesota. I haven't personally seen the Showy Lady's Slipper in person, but it would be a delight to be able to. Perhaps Annah and I will try to go find one this weekend!

Photo Credits: Yellow Lady's Slipper were taken by Jordan, the Showy Lady's Slipper photo is from the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.


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