northern small yellow lady’s slipper

(Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin)

Conservation Status
northern small yellow lady’s slipper
 
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N4? - Apparently Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern small yellow lady’s slipper is a 4¾ to 17¼ tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on one to several stems from a rhizome and fleshy, widely-spaced roots.

The stems are erect, round, stout, green, and densely hairy. The hairs on the stems and leaves cause dermatitis in some people.

There are 2 to 5 leaves on the flowering stem. The leaves may be crowded near the top of the stem or evenly spaced along the stem. They are alternate, erect to spreading, stalkless, and hairy. The leaf blades are broadly egg-shaped to elliptic lance-shaped, 2 to 6¼ long, and 1 to 3 wide. They wrap around (sheath) the stem at the base and taper to a point at the tip. There are several prominent parallel veins arcing from the base to the tip. The veins are deeply impressed on the upper surface. The upper surface of the mature leaf blade is yellowish-green to dark green and hairless. The lower surface is similarly colored and is hairy along the main vines. The margins are untoothed and have a fringe of hairs.

The inflorescence is usually 1, sometimes 2, flowers at the end of the stem. The flowers appear between May 20 and June 30, with peak blooming time June 5 to June 15. The flowers are held upright at the end of a hairy flower stalk. There is a single, 15 16to 2¾long, modified leaf (bract) on the flower stalk just below the flower. The upper surface of the bract is sparsely and inconspicuously covered with hairs when young.

The flower has 3 sepals and 3 petals. The upper sepal is egg lance-shaped, erect, wavy, somewhat twisted, and ¾ to 1½ long. It is yellowish-green but partly to mostly suffused with dark red or reddish-brown. The two lateral sepals are united for most of their length, divided at the tip, appearing to be a single sepal (synsepal). The synsepal droops downward below the lip and is similar in size and appearance to the upper sepal. The lateral petals are linear lance-shaped and 1 to 2 long. They are spreading to strongly drooping, usually spirally twisted or wavy, and similar in color to the sepals. The lower petal (lip) is inflated to form a large, showy, slipper-like pouch. The lip is ¾ to 1¼ long and yellow, with red spots near the opening and on the inside surface. The margins of the opening on the upper portion of the lip are rolled inward. As with most Orchidaceae, the filaments and style are united to form a column. There are 2 stamens, one on either side of the column, and an enlarged, triangular, yellow staminode at the tip of the column.

The fruit is an erect, ellipse-shaped, ribbed, 1 to 1¼ long capsule.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

4¾ to 17¼

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Yellow

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Large yellow lady’s slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) is usually a taller plant with larger leaves, sepals, petals, and lip. However, there is a continuous gradation in size and the sizes overlap, making size an unreliable indicator. The sepals and lateral petals are lighter, appearing mostly yellowish-green with reddish-brown streaks.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet to moist. Swamps, fens, and roadside ditches, especially rich conifer swamps on moss-covered peat.

Northern small yellow lady’s slipper inhabits wet areas. It is found in the northeastern Minnesota in rich conifer swamps on moss-covered peat. In the lower Minnesota River valley it is found in calcareous fens. In northwestern Minnesota it is found in wet prairies, wet meadows, and wet aspen woodlands. It is also found in hardwood swamps, upland hardwood forests, and roadside ditches.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May 20 to June 30

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

4, 5, 7, 24, 25, 28.

 
  4/26/2021      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  
 

Order

Asparagales (agaves, orchids, irises, and allies)  
 

Family

Orchidaceae (orchids)  
  Subfamily Cypripedioideae (slipper orchids)  
 

Genus

Cypripedium (hardy slipper orchids)  
  Subgenus Cypripedium  
  Section Cypripedium  
  Species Cypripedium parviflorum (yellow lady’s slipper)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Cypripedium calceolus ssp. parviflorum

Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum

Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

lesser yellow lady’s slipper

lesser yellow lady’s-slipper

northern small yellow lady’s slipper

northern yellow lady’s slipper

small yellow lady’s slipper

small yellow ladyslipper

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Column

The united filaments and style of an orchid. The structure formed by the united filaments of plants in the Mallow family.

 

Filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Synsepal

A floral structure formed by the partial or complete fusion of two or more sepals.

 
 
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Claire Althoff

 
 

Found this while spraying for poison ivy.

 
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper      
 

Bill Reynolds

 
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Plant

 
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper   northern small yellow lady’s slipper  
           
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper   northern small yellow lady’s slipper  
           
 

Flower

 
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper   northern small yellow lady’s slipper  
           
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper   northern small yellow lady’s slipper  
           
 

Petals and Sepals

 
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper      
           
 

Leaf

 
    northern small yellow lady’s slipper      
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this plant.

 
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  Claire Althoff
6/4/2021

Location: Ottertail MN

Nice clump (7-8) slippers

northern small yellow lady's slipper

 
  Susan M Smith
5/28/2021

Location: McGrath, MN 

 

 
  Bill Reynolds
6/15/2014

Location: Pennington County

northern small yellow lady's slipper

 
           
 
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