Cypripedium montanum ranges from southern Alaska, British Columbia, and western Alberta south to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and northern California. The extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated at 2,633,500 km² and the area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated at 700 km².
This species is no longer extant on Vancouver Island (Clark 1976), nor is it known from the Olympic Peninsula. It is possibly not present west of the Cascade crest in Washington, except along the Columbia River Gorge (Hitchcock et al. 1969). The species can be found up to 1,600 m altitude.
Sources: Cribb 1997, Dorn 2001, Frosch and Cribb 2012, Kartesz 1994, Luer 1975.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Alaska to central California, east to Alberta and Wyoming.
Habitat and Ecology
Cypripedium montanum occurs in a variety of habitats from open woods, subalpine slopes, mixed evergreen or coniferous forests, scrub oak, alpine meadows, bogs and swamps. The species is often associated with Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) in combination with the following: Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana), or Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa). Other associates include Grand Fir (Abies grandis), Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia), Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), and California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii).
Cypripedium montanum prefers moist to dry sandy soil, rich in humus, strongly acidic and aerated. The species requires a mycorrhizal fungal associate and grows in full sun on eastern mountain slopes to full shade in moist wooded valleys, it flowers from April to July (Coleman 1989, Cribb 1997, Doherty 1997, Dorn 2001, Frosch and Cribb 2012, Kartesz 1994, Luer 1975).
Comments: Moist open woods and alpine meadows.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Comments: Common to occasional in appropriate habitat. Described as "infrequent in and east of the Coast-Cascade Mountain [in British Columbia], rare northwards" (Douglas et al. 2001). An estimate of occurrences in eastern Oregon is approximately 200 (pers. comm. J. Kagan 2001), and another 100 in western Oregon (pers. comm. Vrilakas 2002). From the ISMS data set, it is estimated to have 60 occurrences in northern California and 50 in western Washington (ISMS 2002). The state of California does not keep track of occurrences.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Cypripedium montanum
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cypripedium montanum
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Cypripedium montanum is common to occasional in suitable habitat and rare in other parts of its range. The trend of the population is decreasing slowly and the species is extinct from Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula due to numerous threats. The total number of occurrences is more than 300 but many of these comprise only a few plants. The area of occupancy of C. montanum is about 700 km2 and the population of the species and the habitats are under numerous threats especially habitat loss and disturbance, urbanization, logging, trampling, deforestation, timber harvest, herbicide application, lost of pollinators, infrastructure development, creation of recreation sites, and collection from the wild for horticultural or medicinal purposes which cause a continuing decline of the species in all of the ten estimated locations and the destruction of some subpopulations. Therefore, C. montanum is assessed as Vulnerable (VU). The species would probably qualify as Vulnerable or in an even more threatened category under criteria A or C, but detailed information on population declines and generation length are lacking. Information on these aspects should be sought so that the species can be properly assessed.
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Occasional in western North America, with thousands of occurrences, but many of those with few plants. Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from full sun on eastern mountain slopes to full shade in moist wooded valleys (Luer 1975). Threatened by habitat loss or alteration. The main concern for this species is that present-day botanists are observing and hearing anecdotal accounts of population loss. Although populations are known to be declining significantly, there are still abundant enough numbers of plants and populations.
Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Cypripedium montanum is common to occasional in suitable habitat. The species is described as rare in the Coast-Cascade Mountain and the total number of occurrences is more than 300 but many of these with few plants.
As far as population size is concerned: Eastern Oregon has an estimation of approximately 200 occurrences, and another 100 in Western Oregon, an estimated 60 occurrences in northern California and 50 in western Washington. In Wyoming, the population sizes are variable, from 50 to 500 individuals. The overall trend of the population is declining slowly due to many threats, the short-term trend decline is estimated to be 10-30% reduction and long term decline is estimated to be 50-70% reduction. (Coleman 1989, Douglas et al. 2001, Fertig 2000).
Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Comments: This species is reportedly declining slowly due to fire suppression and perhaps also due to harvesting of wildplants (pers. comm. J. Kagan, December 2002). Seevers and Lang (1998) mention examples of severe damage to populations on logged areas in Oregon and California. In Alberta, where C. montanum is only found in the southwestern part of the province, estimated overall population decline is 20 percent over the past 10 years (Ksenija Vujnovic, pers. comm.,2002).
Cypripedium montanum is under numerous threats including habitat loss and disturbance in parts of its range due to urbanization, continued real estate development, logging, deforestation, timber harvest, grazing, herbicide and pesticide intensification, lost of pollinators, road and trail construction, creation of recreation sites, harvesting forest products that disturbs litter and soil (herbal medicine, mushroom collecting), mycorrhizal fungus disturbance and fire suppression. In addition, the decrease in pollinator abundance and collection from the wild for horticultural or medicinal purposes continue to be major threats. (Chen et al. 1995, Fertig 2000, Given 1994, Harrod et al. 1997, Olsen et al. 1995, Seevers and Lang 1998, Washington Natural Heritage Program 1981).
Degree of Threat: High - medium
Comments: Habitat loss, such as logging, fire suppression, and harvesting of wild plants threaten this species (pers. comm. J. Kagan, December 2001). Grazing has also been cited as a threat (Fertig 2000, Ksenija Vujnovic, pers. comm., 2002). Other threats include park and campground maintenance, road construction, and herbicide spraying (Washington Natural Heritage Program 1981). In addition, disturbances caused by the collection of other species such as mushrooms or medicinal plants may damage habitat (Seevers and Lang 1998). Cypripedium montanum is advertised by several distributors as available laboratory-propagated. Fire supression may be the largest threat to the many popluations located in developed/developing areas.
All orchid species are included under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Cypripedium montanum is a Survey and Manage species for the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Oregon, it is a California Native Plant Society and Oregon Natural Heritage Program category 4 species and it is considered a Monitor species by the Washington Natural Heritage Program.
- Protection of the habitat, especially the woodland from urbanisation, deforestation, trampling, logging and fires suppression.
- Fencing vulnerable sites to protect the species from collection for horticultural or medicinal purposes or by gardens lovers.
- Avoid direct mechanical damage to plants, or changes in soil moisture and temperature, or the nature of the duff layer.
- Maintain and restore ecological conditions at known sites such as hydrologic, temperature, and light regimes.
- Management and maintenance of canopy coverage at 60 percent or more to prevent increased sunlight to the site.
- Secure known sites from prescribed burns.
- Manage population sites to include an area large enough to maintain current habitat and associated microclimate, primarily temperature and moisture.
- Ensure that indiscriminate insecticide and herbicide spraying does not affect the populations of pollinators.
- Mitigate disturbance to known sites to maintain current microclimate conditions of the habitat area until basic habitat and life history requirements are understood.
- Raise public awareness.
- Protection of the living individuals of the species through legislation and legal protection which ban the species not to be picked or dug up.
- Ex situ conservation: artificial propagation, re-introduction, seed collections.
- Monitoring and surveillance of the existing populations and sites.
- Estimate the population size and study their dynamics.
Cypripedium montanum is a member of the orchid genus Cypripedium. It is commonly known as the Large Lady's Slipper, Mountain Lady's Slipper, White Lady's Slipper as well as Moccasin Flower. This latter is also the common name of Cypripedium acaule.
Cypripedium montanum, sometimes called "Mountain Lady's Slipper," grows to be up to 70 cm tall. The stem has alternating, plicate leaves. Atop the stem sits one to three large flowers. The sepals and petals tend to be maroon-brown while the pouch is white. This species is a close ally of Cypripedium parviflorum, so they appear to be very similar with the main difference being pouch color.
Cypripedium montanum can be found in the northwestern United States and western Canada. It is reported from California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Alaska. It is usually found at high elevation in open woods and subalpine slopes.
- NatureServe (2006), "Cypripedium montanum", NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life, Version 6.1., Arlington, Virginia
- US Department of Agriculture plants profile
- Biota of North America Program, county distribution map
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