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Description

This perennial orchid is 1–2½' tall and usually unbranched. The central stem is round in circumference, rather stout, and densely covered with hair. Three or more leaves alternate along this stem. These leaves are up to 6" long and 4" across; they are oval-ovate to ovate, smooth along their margins, and pubescent. Parallel veins are readily observable along the upper surface of each leaf. The base of each leaf clasps the stem. The color of the foliage can vary from dark green to yellowish green, depending on growing conditions and the maturity of the plant. The central stem terminates in 1 or 2 flowers. Each flower is held above the foliage on a long stalk that has a single leafy bract behind the flower. This bract resembles the leaves, but it is smaller in size and lanceolate in shape. Like other orchids, each flower has 3 petals and 3 sepals. However, because two of these sepals are fused together, there appears to be only 2 sepals. The lower petal is in the shape of a slipper or a pouch with an opening on top; it is bright yellow, shiny, and 1½–2" in length. Within the interior of this petal, there are frequently reddish brown dots. The 2 lateral petals are very narrow, more or less twisted, and 2–3½" in length. These 2 petals vary in color from greenish yellow to brownish purple and they have fine veins running from their bases to their tips. The sepals form an upper hood and a lower hood. They are broader and shorter than the lateral petals, otherwise their appearance is similar. Both the lateral petals and sepals are more or less pubescent. The reproductive organs are located toward the posterior of the slipper-like lower petal. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 3 weeks. There is usually no noticeable floral scent. If a flower is successfully pollinated by insects (often this doesn't occur), it will form a seedpod. When this seedpod splits open, the fine seeds are easily carried aloft by the wind. The root system consists of a tuft of fleshy fibrous roots. When several plants occur together, they are often clonal offsets of the mother plant. Cultivation

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Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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