Gardening Magazine

Pink Lady’s Slipper – Cypripedium Acaule

By Pattyhankins @PattyHankins
Pink Lady's slipper - cypripedium acaule

Pink Lady’s Slipper © 2014 Patty Hankins

Ahh – the Pink Lady’s  Slipper. So many people I’ve met over the years have shared such wonderful stories with me about how they used to go into the woods with their grandmothers to look for the Pink Lady’s Slippers each spring.

I’d only seen Pink Lady’s Slippers once or twice until I started spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each spring. Now I manage to find them almost every year. I’ve discovered a few trails where I can find up to 30 lady’s slippers in one small area. And you can be sure I go back and visit those spots every time I’m in Gatlinburg.

Varieties of pink lady’s slippers (cypripedium acaule) can be found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. They are considered endangered or threatened in Illinois, Tennessee, and New York. The biggest threats to the Pink Lady’s Slippers are loss of habitat and harvesting of wild plants for sale. Since the lady’s slippers require very specific growing conditions – harvested wild plants rarely survive when transplanted.

So I hope you’ll understand that I’m not going to share where exactly I found this set of lady’s slippers – but I will tell you they are wonderful to see in the wild and I can certainly understand why so many people treasure the memories of seeing them with family members over the years.

Pink Lady’s Slipper is one of the wildflowers featured in my 2015 Wildflower Calendar. My calendar features photographs of twelve different wildflowers I’ve taken in recent years.


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