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Cypripedium reginae

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Title: Cypripedium reginae  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Cypripedioideae, Cypripedium, List of Minnesota wild flowers, List of Canadian plants by genus C, List of Canadian plants by family O, Climate of Minnesota
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cypripedium reginae

Showy lady's Slipper
Conservation status

Apparently Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Cypripedioideae
Genus: Cypripedium
Species: C. reginae
Binomial name
Cypripedium reginae
Walter (1788)
  • Cypripedium album Aiton (1789)
  • Cypripedium spectabile Salisb. (1791)
  • Cypripedium canadense Michx. (1803)
  • Calceolus reginae (Walter) Nieuwl. (1913)

The Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae), also known as the Pink-and-white Lady's-slipper or the Queen's Lady's-slipper, is a rare terrestrial temperate lady's-slipper orchid native to northern North America.

Despite producing a large amount of seeds per seed pod, it reproduces largely by vegetative reproduction,[2] and remains restricted to the North East region of the United States and south east regions of Canada. Although never common, this rare plant has vanished from much of its historical range due to habitat loss. It has been a subject of horticultural interest for many years with Charles Darwin who like many, were unsuccessful in cultivating the plant.

It is the state flower of Minnesota, United States and was also proposed to be the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, Canada.


The species name reginae is Latin for "of a queen". Common names include Fairy Queen, Queen's Lady Slipper, Showy Lady's Slipper, White Wing Moccasin, Pink Lady's Slipper, Royal Lady's Slipper Female, Nervine and Silver-Slipper.[3]

Cultural significance

The plant became the state flower of Minnesota in 1902 and was protected by state law in 1925. It is illegal to pick or uproot a Showy Lady Slipper flower in Minnesota.

Although this plant was chosen as the provincial flower for Prince Edward Island in 1947, it is so rare on the island that another Lady's-slipper, C. acaule (moccasin flower or pink lady slipper), has replaced it as the province's floral emblem.



Cypripedium reginae grows in calcareous wet lands, open wooded swamps, with tamarack and black spruce.[4] Contrary to many garden tips, C. reginae thrives in neutral to basic soils and prefers growing in fens. Despite growing in mildly acidic environments, its roots can penetrate the mossy layers down to more neutral water sources. It forms clumps by branching of the underground rhizomes. It forms aerial roots in the swampy bog conditions. It is eaten by white-tailed deer.[5]

Cypripedium reginae can be found in Canada from Saskatchewan east to Atlantic Canada, and the eastern United States south to Arkansas and Tennessee.


Cypripedium reginae is quite rare, and is considered imperiled (SRANK S2) or critically imperiled (S1) in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Newfoundland and Labrador, North Dakota, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Additionally, it is considered vulnerable (S3) in Indiana, Maine, Manitoba, Massachusetts, New York, Quebec, Vermont, Minnesota, Wisconsin and several areas of east Canada.[6]

It was historically found in Kentucky and North Carolina, but has not been found recently. The only province to rank C. reginae as apparently secure (S4) is Ontario.

The Pink and White Lady's-Slipper is sensitive to hydrologic disturbances, and is threatened by wetland draining, habitat destruction and horticultural collectors.


The Lady's Slipper is a popular plant among orchid color collectors for its color and structure. However, it has proven to be a difficult plant to cultivate, due to their natural growing habits, and therefore vulnerable to poachers and hikers. It was considered difficult to raise by tissue culture until progress on axenic culture from seed in the 1990s.[1][2][7]


C. reginae reproduces sexually, dependent on the intricate relationship between naive syphid flies, beetles and Megachile bees, where the pollinator will pass under the pollen-bearing anthers prior to the female pistil while exiting, only to discover that there was little to no reward for entering the pouch.

It flowers in early to midsummer, usually with 1 to 2 flowers per stalk, less commonly 3 or 4.


Cypripedium reginae contains an irritant, phenanthrene quinone or cypripedin. The plant is known to cause severe dermatitis on the hands and face. The first report of the allergy reaction was first reported in 1875 by H. H. Babcock in the United States, 35 years before the term "allergy" was coined. The allergen was later isolated in West Germany by Bjorn M. Hausen and associates.[8]


The Cypripedium species has been used in native remedies for dermatitis, tooth aches, anxiety, headaches, as an antispasmodic, stimulant and sedative, depression. However the preferred species for use are C.caceolus and C.acaule, used as topical applications or tea.[9][10]


  • NatureServe (2006), "Cypripedium reginae", NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life, Version 6.1., Arlington, Virginia
  • Gray's Manual of Botany of the Northern United States, American Book Company, 1889

External links

  • Minnesota Secretary of State: State Flower, accessed January 31, 2004
  • US Geological Survey: Showy Lady Slipper, accessed January 31, 2004
  • Showy Lady's-slipper: Queen Lady's-slipper(, accessed Nov 19, 2005
  • Cypripedin
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