Yellow Lady’s Slipper
A beautiful perennial orchid frequently growing in colonies. Flowers have three long, brown, twisted “flags”—the upright one being a sepal, the other two, on either side of the “slipper,” being two lateral petals. The bright yellow slipper, or lip, is a third, modified petal. The petal-like structure behind the lip is actually a pair of fused sepals. Thus there are 3 sepals and 3 petals. Blooms April–June. Leaves broad, prominently parallel-veined, clasp the stem, to 6 inches long, sharply pointed, hairy.
Similar species: Three species of lady’s slippers grow in Missouri. Showy lady’s slipper (C. reginae) has white flowers with sepals and lateral petals that don’t twist; the lip is pink- or purple-tinged. Small white lady’s slipper (C. candidum) has flowers whose purplish or brown-tinged “flags” twist; the lip is white with purplish streaks on the inside surface. It is rare and found in only one location in extreme southern Missouri.