2023: Missouri – Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus)

I have to admit when I first heard of wild orchids in Missouri, it harkened me back to being home; where to catch a glance, one would have to look up, into the canopy of trees. Like most, when most people conjure images of where orchids grow, they see an overgrown tropical rainforest, filled with mist and mosquitos. Orchids are found on every continent, except Antarctica, and live in habitats including grasslands, bogs, deserts and many more. Orchids (Orchidaceae) are placed in the order Asparagale and are an incredibly large family of flowers. It is the second-largest family of flowering plants with over 28,000 species and over 700 genera. Here in Missouri, with a careful eye and a bit of luck, anyone can find orchids in their natural habitats.

Bill Duncan introduced me to Missouri orchids in 2020/2021, and each spring through later fall, I do my best to time the bloom, so I can document the species in Missouri. The state of Missouri is home to over 30 species of orchids. Many tropical orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants or trees but all of the native orchids in Missouri are terrestrial, meaning they grow in soil. There is still a lot we don’t know about orchids in Missouri, such as details about their lifecycles, pollinators, fungal associates, and how changes in land use and climate could impact these amazing plants.

To date, I have seen and documented six of the thirty species. In this blog, I am showcasing the Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus)

Known as lady’s slipper because most flowers in this genus have a pouch that looks like a slipper, and this one is yellow. It has a green stem, usually hairy. It produces a couple of large flowers with a very pouchy labellum. It has visually similar, green-brown sepals and lateral petals that twist outwards in spirals.

The pronounced pouch, photographed from top view. Cypripedium calceolus was photographed in early May 2023 in Franklin County, Missouri.



It has stems 15-80 cm long, usually hairy. This orchid has 1-2 yellow flowers and very rarely white flowers. It has 3-6 leaves per stem, which are about 14-20 cm long. Sepals are 2-5 cm long and yellow-green or reddish-purple and twisted.

Cypripedium calceolus was photographed in early May 2023 in Franklin County, Missouri.


Here hard at work, dialling in on my composition.

Getting the composition just right – Photo credit: Steven Bizub

I want to thank Steven Bizub for joining me on this trip. It was a very productive day and the fellowship was welcomed.

Until the next adventure and thank you for stopping by!

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  1. Thanks, Miguel, I had a great time. Well, except for those lone star ticks, send them back to Texas! Appreciate your advice on the umbrella, and other macrophotography topics

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