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Old May 30, 2016, 6:12 PM   #1
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Default Golden (and pink) Slippers

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.
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Old May 30, 2016, 6:14 PM   #2
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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.
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Old May 30, 2016, 6:15 PM   #3
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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!
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Old May 30, 2016, 6:17 PM   #4
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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.
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Old May 30, 2016, 6:19 PM   #5
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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.
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Old May 30, 2016, 6:20 PM   #6
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Hope you enjoyed the pink & golden slippers, and that you'll share your comments & critique.
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