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Golden (and pink) Slippers
Lens: FA 50 macro, A 35-105 Camera: K 5 Photo Location: East Tennessee 
Posted By: mole, 05-30-2016, 06:04 PM

Orchids are tropical flowers, right? Well actually, temperate Tennessee has many native orchids! And some of the prettiest are the ones we call Lady's Slippers. There are 5 species of Lady's Slippers native to Tennessee. And I had the great pleasure of getting to see, count and photograph all five species during the month of May.




Pink Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) are the least rare of the 5 native species. Like all our native orchids, they are very picky about where they will grow. And those pretty blooms serve an important purpose - to attract pollinators and produce seeds for future generations. Enjoy them when you spot them, but be sure to leave them for others to enjoy. Here are several views, taken at several of our Northeast Tennessee State Parks.










These golden beauties are our smallest native Lady's Slipper. Lesser Yellow Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum) are so small that a bumblebee can barely fit inside the "slipper!" This patch was way off trail in a small wetland at Rocky Fork State Park.








Here's Lesser Yellow's big cousin - the Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescent). What a delight to see them glowing gold in the dark woods! Plenty of bumblebees could fit inside these. Speaking of bumblebees - did you know that Lady's Slippers "trick" the bees and other pollinators? There is no nectar in that bright flower, just a temporary "insect trap." Bees get confused inside the flower, bump around, and get dusted with pollen!






Here's one of our rarest - the Kentucky Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium kentuckiense). It's a recently-described species, confined to the southeastern US. They are only found in a three locations in Tennessee. These photos are from the most successful population.










And here is perhaps our most lovely, and certainly our rarest in Tennessee - the Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae - the "queen" of the lady's slippers). They were once found in three places in Tennessee, but now appear to be surviving only in one small spot.










They are disappearing due changes in habitat, as well as illegal "plant poaching." So I can't reveal the location of these, but I can tell you that our most recent count shows a still-thriving population.






Hope you enjoyed the pink & golden slippers, and that you'll share your comments & critique.
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05-31-2016, 07:49 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting. We have Pink Ladyslippers up here but not the other two. Ours are quite common, we know of a couple of places we go that have them... well quite common if you know where they are. Maybe not so common if you don't.

So not only are they not tropical, Pink Lady Slippers are boreal plants as well, thriving high up on the Algonquin Dome.
05-31-2016, 12:26 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Thanks for posting. We have Pink Ladyslippers up here but not the other two. Ours are quite common, we know of a couple of places we go that have them... well quite common if you know where they are. Maybe not so common if you don't.

So not only are they not tropical, Pink Lady Slippers are boreal plants as well, thriving high up on the Algonquin Dome.
Norm - we are on the very southern edge of the range of the pink & white ones (Showy Lady Slippers). They're extremely rare here, but somewhat more common in the far north. Funny to think about orchids blooming way up in the Algonquin!
05-31-2016, 09:23 PM   #4
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Lovely plants. Thanks for sharing.

06-04-2016, 09:28 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcdog2006 Quote
Lovely plants. Thanks for sharing.
So glad you enjoyed these - and thanks for taking time to comment!
06-11-2016, 07:25 PM   #6
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Lovely series. pleasing color, detail and bokeh.
06-12-2016, 03:11 AM   #7
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Absolutely gorgeous

06-12-2016, 08:06 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mole Quote
Orchids are tropical flowers, right? Well actually, temperate Tennessee has many native orchids! And some of the prettiest are the ones we call Lady's Slippers. There are 5 species of Lady's Slippers native to Tennessee. And I had the great pleasure of getting to see, count and photograph all five species during the month of May.




Pink Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) are the least rare of the 5 native species. Like all our native orchids, they are very picky about where they will grow. And those pretty blooms serve an important purpose - to attract pollinators and produce seeds for future generations. Enjoy them when you spot them, but be sure to leave them for others to enjoy. Here are several views, taken at several of our Northeast Tennessee State Parks.










These golden beauties are our smallest native Lady's Slipper. Lesser Yellow Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum) are so small that a bumblebee can barely fit inside the "slipper!" This patch was way off trail in a small wetland at Rocky Fork State Park.








Here's Lesser Yellow's big cousin - the Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescent). What a delight to see them glowing gold in the dark woods! Plenty of bumblebees could fit inside these. Speaking of bumblebees - did you know that Lady's Slippers "trick" the bees and other pollinators? There is no nectar in that bright flower, just a temporary "insect trap." Bees get confused inside the flower, bump around, and get dusted with pollen!






Here's one of our rarest - the Kentucky Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium kentuckiense). It's a recently-described species, confined to the southeastern US. They are only found in a three locations in Tennessee. These photos are from the most successful population.










And here is perhaps our most lovely, and certainly our rarest in Tennessee - the Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae - the "queen" of the lady's slippers). They were once found in three places in Tennessee, but now appear to be surviving only in one small spot.










They are disappearing due changes in habitat, as well as illegal "plant poaching." So I can't reveal the location of these, but I can tell you that our most recent count shows a still-thriving population.






Hope you enjoyed the pink & golden slippers, and that you'll share your comments & critique.
Womderful flowers, fine pictures and fine bokeh
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