Today is Plant Conservation Day, so I thought I’d feature a species of conservation concern (at least in some jurisdictions).
Cypripedium fasciculatum is native to a number of western states in the US, though its range is quite discontinuous and there are large gaps between regional populations. Intriguingly (to me), the range map ends at the Canada-US border, so it is one of those species that perhaps has potential to be found in Canada one day: “Hitchcock et al. (1969) and Luer (1975) report Cypripedium fasciculatum in British Columbia, although Catling (1983) cited by Brownell and Catling (1987) discount this occurrence.” (from US Bureau of Land Management’s Management Recommendations for Cypripedium fasciculatum).
Clustered lady’s-slipper or brownie lady’s-slipper will win no beauty contests when compared to the species’ showier cousins like Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens or Cypripedium reginae, but it can be appreciated for other qualities. For one, it is difficult to spot when growing among the greens and browns of the forest floor; I am still amazed at how Margaret Charlton (one of the attendees on our recent group trek to the Siskiyous) managed to locate this plant down the embankment. With extra care (e.g., not disturbing the soil and litter layer above and below it on the slope or near the plant), a few of us went to photograph it — care that is warranted, as it is susceptible to disturbance: “Threats include activities that alter the moisture or temperature regime, actions that disturb the soil and litter layer, or decrease vegetation cover to < 60 percent." (also from the US Bureau of Land Management's Management Recommendations for Cypripedium fasciculatum).
In Washington, Oregon and California, Cypripedium fasciculatum is either on watch lists or considered threatened.