Showy Lady's Slipper
State Status: Pennsylvania Threatened (PT)
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S1
Did You Know?
This species can outlive the typical human with a lifespan of up to 100 years old.
Showy lady's slipper (Cypripedium reginae) orchids are named for the inflated pouch formed by the lower petal. The single or paired, 2.5-5cm white and rose-pink flowers are the largest of our native orchids. Plants stand 30-60cm high with 20cm oval leaves clasping the stems.
Critically imperiled in the nation or state because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state.
Showy lady's slippers have been found in swamps, bogs and wet woods
Flowers May - June
Pennsylvania populations historically occurred in alkaline wetlands from northwest through central to southeast areas of the state, but can be found today only in the glaciated northwest.
Threats include collection by nurserymen and misguided gardeners. The probability of showy lady's slippers surviving a transplant from their wetland habitat is poor. Even casual picking of the flowers destroys the plant's chances of reproducing. Loss of habitat from recreational and housing development, in addition to water pollution from mineral extraction, have taken their toll.
One showy lady's slipper population is protected in a natural area owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. A second is located on a state game lands. Owners of the three other sites should be encouraged to protect the plants. Searches must continue to assess the current condition of historically documented plant populations.
Conservation Status Map
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.
- NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
- Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
- Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
- 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.