mountain lady’s slipper orchid
In the mountains of British Columbia it seems you can set your watch by the appearance of the differing varieties of orchids. First the Calypso, often poking through the snow, and then the Yellow Lady’s Slipper on the edge of springs and ponds. The Bog Orchid appears around the same time, and finally the Mountain Lady’s Slipper, the largest of the wild orchids and arguably the showiest.
Checking my notes, each species seem to appear, year to year, within a week of each other. The blooms don’t last long and when they stop blooming the plants seem to disappear back into the forest floor.
The Mountain Lady’s Slipper has a delicate sweet scent. It grows in clumps of numerous blooms or in singles. The Latin or scientific name is Cypripedium Montanum. Cypripedium is an orchid genus. Montanum means, of the mountain.
Wild orchids will rarely survive if picked. They have been exterminated in many places, such as Banff and Vancouver Island, due to the gathering of the scented flowers.
They are a joy to come across in the mountains. Always remember to leave them untouched so they can be found year after year.