Cypripedium reginae (Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchid, Queen Lady’s-slipper) [formerly C. spectabile]

Queen Lady’s-slipper Orchid is the largest orchid native to North America. It may live up to 50 years old, although it grow at a fairly slow rate. Contact with the leaves may cause an allergic reaction similar to touching poison ivy. These are currently threatened partly due to illgal oerharvesting.

Cypripedium reginae (Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchid, Queen Lady’s-Slipper) [formerly C. spectabile]
Deciduous: yes
Hardiness Zones: 2-7
Height: to 1 meter (3 feet) tall
Diameter: 15-30 centimeters (6-12 inches) wide
Growth Rate: slow
Age: perennial, begin flowering at around 15 years of age, may exceed 50 years old
Root System: fibrous, rhizome base, commonly found below Sphagnum moss in Tsuga (hemlock) bogs
Family: Orchidaceae
Subspecies: none

Tolerates: more tolerant of transplanting than most orchids
Problems (major): Overharvesting is leading to a sharp decline in native populations. Thankfully, though, they can be successfully grown in cultivation.
Problems (minor): none
Poisonous: The hairs on the leaves may cause dermatitis in some, similar to poison ivy.

Soil requirements: prefer neutral soils, can grow in acidic bogs, more commonly found in neutral to alkaline forest wetlands, requirs good drainage
Air requirements: perform best when humidity is around 50%
Watering requirement: moderate to moist,
Sun requirement: full sun to partial shade to full shade (produces few flowers, however)

Leaf size: to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long by 10 centimeters (4 inches), elliptical to ovate, pubescent (hairy)
Leaf shape: light green, alternate, veins visible, pubsecent (with hairs), 3-5 per plant
Flower shape: ovular, to 4 centimeters (1.5 inches long) by 3 centimeters (1 inch) wide
Flowering frequency: late June to July
Flower color(s): white, pink
Flower gimmick: Pollinated by bees, some insects become stuck in the labellum.
Flower spike: bears 1 or 2 (rarely 3) terminal flowers with alternate leaves
Petals/Sepals: petals lanceolate to 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) by 1.5 centimeters (0.5 inches) wide, 2 sepals fused to form 1 which is 5 centimeters (2 inches) tall and 3.5 centimeters (1.5 inches) wide
Lip/Labellum/Column: lip (labellum) pouch-shaped, spherical
Stigma/Anthers: tucked inside labellum/lip
Epiphyte: no
Monocot/Dicot: monocot

Notable characteristics:
These may form colonies in bogs, where flowers may appear profuse. Seeds germinate best when about 5 centimeters deep into the soil. These plants are currently threatened, partly because these are wrongfully taken from their native habitats, harming the entire population. This is the largest orchid native to North America.

These are grown almost entirely for their ornamental value.

Sources used:

Another species of lady’s-slipper orchid, foliage and flowers visible

Two lady’s-slipper orchids (a different species)

Another variety of lady’s-slipper orchid with a very similar labellum/lip

I do not own the rights of these images; all credit goes to their owner, my aunt Roberta.


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