Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens — Overview

Yellow Lady's Slipper Orchid learn more about names for this taxon

IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial plant 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, smooth along the 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. 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 1¼–2" in length. Within the interior of this petal, there are frequently reddish brown dots. The 2 lateral petals are narrow, more or less twisted, and 2–3¼" in length. They vary in color from greenish yellow to brownish purple and have fine veins running from the base of the flower 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. 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 sack of fine seeds; these 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 vegetative offsets of the mother plant.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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