Index- plants in this Family
Orchidaceae / Orchid
Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus)
Yellow Lady's Slipper is also known as American Valerian.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 80cm in height (31.4961inches). Often in small groups.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 20cm in length (8inches). Leaves can be as wide as 10 cm (4inches). Each leaf is entire.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape . They are yellow often veined with purple. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into late spring.
Habitat: Wooded slopes.
Range: Most of North America. Rare.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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Over collection has made this lovely plant rare. There are at least two varieties with different flower sizes to accommodate different pollinators. Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens has flowers to 8cm (3") long and is widespread while Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum has flowers only reaching about 5cm (2") long and occurs in our area only in the mountains.

This plant is still threatened by plant collectors though it can seldom be successfully transplanted.

Medical Uses: Called American Valerian after Indian Valerian (Valeriana Wallichii) which comes from India shares similar medical properties. Once commonly used to treat various nervous disorders it is a mild stimulant and is antispasmodic. Often used to treat depression related to female problems. The Cherokee used it similarly and with other plants for various other conditions. Having been almost wiped out by collectors for such medical use it is now far to rare to be used medically.

Similar Species: Pink Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium ancaule

See the links below this image for other images. (1)
© Darel Hess   E-mail      Image use policy

Shenandoah National Park a few miles from the Big Meadows area May 8, 2000.

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Yellow Ladies' Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus) - wide view of several specimens  © Darel Hess

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Monocots / One Seed Leaf


Lady's Slipper

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