Cypripedium montanum

These photographs are from my first-ever encounter with Cypripedium montanum, which occurred this past June north of Lytton, British Columbia. I also photographed it a few weeks later northwest of La Grande, Oregon.

Mountain lady’s slipper is another native of western North America, with its range extending east as far as south central Montana and north central Wyoming. Curiously, despite its main range extending as far north as central British Columbia in the interior and only to a small portion of southwestern British Columbia along the coast, it can also be found in the Alaska Panhandle — a discontinuous distribution with a minimum gap of 750km.

The Flora of North America lists Cypripedium montanum as having a habitat of “mesic to dry (rarely wet) coniferous, deciduous, and broadleaf evergreen forests, openings, and thickets, around shrubs on open slopes”. Today’s photographs were taken along the exposed banks of a roadside, and all of the half-dozen or so plants I observed on this trip were covered in gravel-dust. More photographs of this species are available from the Burke Museum: Cypripedium montanum.

In Daniel Moerman’s exhaustive Native American Ethnobotany, only one reference is made to a First Nations use of this species. Members of the Okanagan-Colville Nation purportedly used an infusion of the leaves and stalks as a reproductive aid (the infusion was “taken by a pregnant woman to have a small baby”). Source reference for this was a 1980 report by Nancy Turner and colleagues of the Royal British Columbia Museum, “Ethnobotany of the Okanagan-Colville Indians of British Columbia and Washington. As an incidental aside, Dr. Turner worked as a summer student at UBC Botanical Garden sometime in the 1970s.

Lastly, another note for local readers. I’ll be presenting on Monday night (number five of at least seven this month), this time on the topic of “Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia” to the Langley Garden Club. If you’d like to attend, the meeting begins at 7:30pm in Murrayville Hall at 21667 48th Avenue (there will likely be a small guest fee to attend).

Cypripedium montanum
Cypripedium montanum

19 responses to “Cypripedium montanum”

  1. Eric in SF

    *swoon* Great set of photos.
    I just this past summer encountered this species myself. I’d seen slipper orchids on two OTHER continents before I saw one on my own!
    This species is found as south as Wawona Meadows in Yosemite National Park:

  2. Meg Bernstein

    So beautiful!!

  3. annie Morgan

    Lovely photos. Such a dainty plant.

  4. Keith

    Thank you Daniel, these are both very beautiful.

  5. Debby

    Ooh, a charming octet! What are they singing?

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    the little slippers could win danceing
    with the stars hands down 10 10 10

  7. Cambree

    Wow! These are so cute. I instantly thought of “baby shoes”.
    I would love to come across this in the wild too. Lovely photo.

  8. hala

    GOOD effort but I need more different pictures

  9. Greg Holmes

    The diversity of the plant life in B.C. is truly staggering. What an exotic looking plant.

  10. brian

    I reckon it is worth travelling to Canada from Europe just to see this !! …..maybe next year…

  11. Barb Stalker

    You can see pink lady’s slippers in the Adirondacks.

  12. kate

    i love pictures of flowers, and these are beautiful!

  13. Richard

    In the middle of all of the wheat fields of “the Palouse” and adjacent to the city limits of Pullman,
    Washington, there is a small area of land that has never been cultivated (referred to locally as “magpie forest”). Among the other treasures to be found there is a population of Cypripedium montanum.
    I have always thought that the city should annex this parcel, as I believe it would be the only place where this species could be found with a municipality.

  14. Elizabeth Revell

    Aren’t orchids just the most amazing things: their variety, their elegance, their beauty, their deep cunning in their nefarious ways of achieving fertilisation…

  15. Rakia Peshimam

    This orchid is so very beautiful.

  16. brittany

    they arent just in bc we also have them here in manitoba. ive only seen pink and yellow ones here not white

  17. Susan B

    Thank you! I enjoy seeing the close up of flowers, but it’s an added bonus to see the entire plant.

  18. susan

    The colors of nature are so vibrant and extraordinary, yet this white orchid is so exquisite

  19. Sandy Marshall

    I may have found two young plants, near where I live in a northern Calif. forest. This year, just one leaf come up on each plant. It is a deeply grooved leaf and attached to a small bulb looking stub at the top of the roots

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