We write about one of the orchids in Kananaskis, the Calypso, on this page. Another common K-Country orchid is the Yellow Lady’s-Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum. Like the Calypso, this flower is slipper-shaped. Unlike the Calypso, it is quite large, growing up to 60 cm tall. The flower itself is also much bigger, up to 6 cm.
It is a beautiful and showy plant, growing as a singleton or in clumps of up to a dozen or more plants. But it is becoming threatened. People love to pick it (please don’t pick wildflowers, ever). They try to dig it up to transplant it, which doesn’t work. Like most orchids, they survive through mutualism with a fungus that lives in the ground. Your nice garden doesn’t have that fungus, so they won’t survive transplanting. And the hairs on the plant are a skin irritant, yet another reason to take photos and leave the plant alone.
What they offer is an awesome nectar source for bees. The bees crawl all the way inside the flower to get the nectar. They get coated with pollen and come out bright yellow.
Several subspecies of Lady’s-Slippers are found through most of North America. They are supposedly found in damp and moist forests, or bogs and stream banks. However, they are usually in stunning display in mid-June along the power line in Canmore near Quarry Lake all the way to the Rundle Forebay. That’s a dry, desolate, windswept area of disturbed ground. Go figure.
See some of the other beautiful flowers of K-Country here!