What’s in Bloom Now: Lady’s Slippers

Lady's slippers

Pink lady's slipper orchids (Cypripedium acaule), May 14, 2012, Lexington, Massachusetts.

There are lady’s slippers growing on public land all around Boston, blooming roughly from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. Look for shady woodlands with acid soils. Forests with plenty of white pines, oaks, blueberries or huckleberries are good bets. Try the Middlesex Fells, Stony Brook Reservation, or the Lynn Woods.

But whatever you do, don’t pick lady’s slippers. They’re astonishingly bad at producing seeds—on average they set seed only once every ten years— so a few bouquets can make them go locally extinct. And forget about transplanting them. They’ll just die if you don’t have a special sterile lady’s slipper propagation lab.

No, you’ll just have to enjoy them in a park. Aren’t you glad we have public land?