WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

The distinctive yellow, pouch-shaped flower will stop you in your tracks if you’re lucky enough to find one. These rare, 7–24-inch tall, softly hairy beauties are deceiving, though, if you’re an insect. Andrenid  bees attracted by a sweet odor crawl into the “slipper’s” top opening past two anthers laden with pollen, but find no nectar. The flower saves energy by providing no nectar reward for the hungry bees. The disappointed bee flies to the next orchid and is tricked again, and again, as it spreads pollen from flower to flower. The roots spread to form colonies of dozens of showy plants.


FLOWERS: June–July. Bright yellow lip pouch up to 4-inches high and long (10 cm) but highly variable in size, interior lined with red dots; 2 reddish-brown twisted petals spread to the sides; one reddish-brown sepal arcs above and two fused into one curl below the flower.


LEAVES: Alternate with sheathing bases. Blades 4–6 per stem,  broadly lance-shaped, 3 1/2–5 1/2-inches long (9–14 cm), 1 1/2–2-inches wide (4–5 cm), distinct parallel veins running length of leaf, fine hairs on bottom surface.


HABITAT: Moist soils near streams, springs, and seeps, forest openings; pine, fir, aspen forests.


ELEVATION: 6,000–9,500 feet.


RANGE: Widespread across North America.


SIMILAR SPECIES: This is the largest orchid in NM. The smaller Calypso Orchid, Calypso bulbosa, has purple petals and a white pouch-like lip.


NM COUNTIES: Northern and western mountains in NM in mid- to high-elevation, damp, forested habitats: Colfax, Catron, Grant, Los Alamos, Otero, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Taos.

YELLOW  LADY'S  SLIPPER  ORCHID

CYPRIPEDIUM  PARVIFLORUM  VAR.  PUBESCENS

Orchid Family, Orchidaceae

Perennial herb

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Range Map for

Cypripedium parviflorum

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