Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium californicum)

We are back today (July 13th) from a four-day trip to Oregon and northern California.  We went to see the Oregon coast and the California Redwoods (that word should always be capitalized!), but also went orchid hunting in the Siskyous of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California.  It was a profitable trip, which gave us opportunity to see seven native orchids, two of them new for us, including the subject of this post.

The California Lady's Slipper reaches the northern limit of its distribution in the Siskyous, and is found further south only in a very small area of northern California.  It is a tall plant, to 130 cm (four feet), though the plants we saw were all shorter, and each stem can carry around twenty flowers, though, again, what we saw had fewer flowers, usually around six to ten per plant with more in only a couple of cases.

The flowers are small, 10 cm, and are yellow-orange to yellowish-green, to clear green and bronze with a white pouch.  All the flowers we saw except on one plant had pink markings at the opening of the lip.  The one stem that was an exception lacked the pink color completely.  The flowers alternate with the leaves and were in prime condition with only the very lowest flowers on the plants showing signs of age and starting to close.

One huge bonus was that these plants which grow only in serpentine areas were found with hundreds of the Few-flowered Rein Orchis, Platanthera sparsiflora, another new species for us, and with the Cobra Lily, Darlingtonia californicum, an amazing insectivorous plant, and also a lover of wet serpentine areas.  The plants we saw were found on a forest service road in California at a high altitude - those at lower altitudes were already finished.


  1. They were really something to see, Marti. If you are ever down that way in late June or early July, I'll give you some specific instructions for finding them, along with Darlingtonia and a lot of other orchids.

  2. Que planta mais linda, obrigado por compartilhar

  3. Thank you, my friend. They are some of the most beautiful native orchids we've seen and since we had not seen them before, they were all the more wonderful.

  4. How cute are these Cypripedium?!
    Such adorable proportions and nice, faint pink markings inside that slipper.
    Beautiful series of shots, Ron!

  5. Thanks, Clare. They are now my favorite Lady's Slippers, though that may just be because they are new to me. They are very delicate and lovely, though.