I took to the road for another glimpse of the Showy Lady’s Slipper. I returned to a spot I once photographed them.
The Showy Lady Slipper is Minnesota’s state flower, also known as the Pink & White Lady Slipper, Cypripedium Reginae (Showy Lady Slipper Orchid).
It is one of the rarest wildflowers in Minnesota. A couple of roadways in Northern Minnesota provide a profusion of plants for those of us who don’t know their haunts in the deep woods. It thrives in swamps, bogs and damp woods (and fortunately in some roadside ditches). It’s a very difficult plant to grow so is best seen in its natural setting: calcareous wet lands, open wooded swamps, with tamarack and black spruce.
They grow slowly, taking 4-16 years to produce their first flower. They can live up to 50 years and grow up to 4 feet tall. They bloom in late June to early July. That is the difficulty of a 5 hour road trip: to know exactly when to catch a Showy Lady’s Slipper in bloom.
I left for this trip suspecting I was early in this year of a late, cold spring. Alas my suspicions proved correct. I saw the growing plants, but no blossoms. Perhaps I might see them two weeks later, but due to the excessive rain in this part of Minnesota, I might not see them at all. So I spied a small patch of Blue Flag Iris, beautiful and worth a photograph though plentiful; a consultation prize!
This dud road trip marks my second fool’s errand this Spring chasing a view of some wild flower, trying to gauge the season, find a spot not disturbed by construction and habitat not altered by new climate. I seek out this rare beauty acutely aware I have fewer years left and climate change is messing with even those few years.