Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pink Lady's Slippers: To pick or not to pick

There is a trail behind our house and recently I discovered various patches of Lady's Slippers. Actually, it was a woman taking a picture of these flowers that first caught my eye.

What are these puffed up flowers all about? Well, here are a few interesting facts:

- they are a wild orchid (Cypripedium acaule)
- also known as the moccasin flower
- can cause severe dermatitis if touched
- it's the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, since 1965
- it is the only flower with a lip (slipper)
- they prefer poor, acid soils (around pH 4-5) and do best in light to moderate shade.
- growth is slow, and it may take several years to flower
- they are fragile and do not transplant well, in fact, it's discouraged
- should not be picked or used in floral arrangements

People tell me that information about Nova Scotia's conservation of the Lady's Slipper is available but I cannot seem to find anything. Send a comment if you know and I'll happily post it.

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