Mountain Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium montanum)
This rare orchid is a special treat if you can find it. Most of the 30 species of Cypripedium are called “Lady Slippers”, and all depend on fungi within the soil to sustain themselves. We were extremely lucky to find a reference in a decades old trail guide which still lead to a small, easily overlooked, patch.
The greek genus name translates to Aphrodite’s sandal, referring to the white lip (labellum) which looks like a fluffy slipper that could be slipped on a tiny foot. The purple veins along the bottom of the lip and the three twisted purple petals shoot outward adding to its other-worldliness. These are one of 3 northwestern species and live in open conifer forests. All twelve U.S. species are included in the US Forest service article, “Meet the Ladies“.