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Published In: Species Plantarum 2: 951. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/23/2009)


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5. Cypripedium L. (lady’s slipper)

Plants with rhizomes. Flowering stems 1‑several, hairy, with 1–3 terminal flowers, each subtended by a leaflike bract. Leaves 3–10 (2 elsewhere), green, with both basal and alternate positions along the flowering stems, sessile, lanceolate to ovate or elliptic, usually somewhat corrugated or ribbed, hairy. Lateral 2 sepals usually united to the tip, similar in size and shape and opposite the upper sepal, positioned behind the lip. Lateral petals spreading, in some species somewhat downward arching or drooping. Lip enlarged to form a slipperlike pouch. Column with 2 stamens on either side near the tip, the tip with a large, ovate to triangular staminode. Capsules erect or nearly so, 20–30 mm long, elliptic in outline, strongly ribbed. Forty species, North America, Europe, Asia.

The hairs present on foliage of Cypripedium species cause dermatitis in some people. These beautiful orchids have suffered more than most species in Missouri from overcollecting (see below).

Cypripedium is unique among Missouri orchids in having 2 stamens, rather than 1, with a staminode also produced, and in having granular pollen. The species are mostly pollinated by various smaller bees (less commonly by beetles and flies), which are deceived into visiting the flowers by color and fragrance (the flowers offer no rewards to insects). The insects enter the pouchlike lip and can only exit through smaller openings on either side of the column toward the rear of the lip, which involves rubbing against the stamens and stigma. Occasionally, larger insects, such as bumblebees and moths, will enter the lip but are too large to pass through the exit holes and sometimes become trapped and die.


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1.Lateral petals flat or slightly arching, not spirally twisted, shorter than to about as long as the lip
Cypripedium reginae
1.Lateral petals spirally twisted, linear-lanceolate, longer than the lip
2.Lip white, leaves less than 4 cm wide, narrowly elliptic; stems and leaves sparsely hairy
Cypripedium candidum
2.Lip yellow (rarely white); leaves usually wider than 4 cm, ovate to elliptic; stems and leaves more densely hairy
Cypripedium calceolus
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