Cypripedium guttatum : Pink Lady's Slipper


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Monocoteldonae (one seed-leaf)

Family: Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Genera: Cypripedium (Lady's Slipper) (Gk. Kypris=Venus, godess of love + podion=a slipper, referring to the shape of the flower)

Species: guttatum (Lat. gutta=drop, referring to the purple spots on the petals)

English Name(s):

Pink Lady's Slipper, Spotted Lady's Slipper

First Nation Names:



  • Stems pubescent (hairy) slender, 10-20 cm tall with 2 leaves near the middle, and 2-3 sheathes at the base.


Reproductive Parts:

  • Flowers perfect (bisexual). Zygomorphic (biliteral symmetry).
  • Petals 3 of which the side two are alike but are different from the lower one which is lip like.
  • Sepals 3.
  • Column (fused filaments and style) with 2 anthers (male parts).
  • Lateral petals long, linear. Lower petal (lip) inflated, sac or slipper like.
  • Flowers single above a single leaf like bract.
  • Lateral petals ovate in shape, white with purple blotches,
  • Lower petal (lip) obovate in shape, 18-25mm long, 10-15mm wide, white with purple blotches.
  • Sepals13-28mm long. The two side sepals joined almost to the tip.


  • Fruit a three chambered capsule containing innumerable minute seeds.
  • Capsule glandular to pubescent, strongly ribbed, drooping.

Not to Be Confused With:



    • Herbacious.
    • The flowers have only 2 anthers (male parts) which is concidered a primitive charactaristic in the Orchid Family.

    Life Cycle:

    • Perennial.
    • Blooming occurs after 2-3 years of growth.

    Seasonal Cycle:

    • Finished blooming by mid-July.


    Animal Uses:

    • The 'Slipper' is an insect trap. It is easy for insects to enter the slipper but the smooth surface makes it hard to escape. There is a strip of hairs at the 'heel' of the slipper which an insect can climb up and out of the flower.
    • When escaping the flower, the insect has to come incontact with first the pistle (female part), where it can deposit any pollin from other flowers, and then the anthers (male part), where it can pick up new pollen to take to another flower.


    • Mossy open woods, heathlands and meadows.
    • Perhaps restricted to calcareous soils.




    • Propogation is done by division. Each year 3-8 shoots are produced and 1-3 of these can be removed in the spring. Divisions should have roots and be planted in coniferous humus and woodchips.



        Traditional Gwich'in:





                Traditional Other:




                    • Cypripedin a powder produced by precipitating the tincture with water was said to have greater powers than the root and was given to children instead of opium.
                    • Plants in this genus were known for the drug Cypripedium which was used as a gentle nervous stimulant or antispasmodic.
                    • Plants taken in a sweetened concoction for headache.
                    • Roots were chewed as a sedative especially during menstruation and childbirth.



                      Flower Sideview

                      Range Maps

                      World Range: Asian and In N.A. Amphi-beringian extending into NWT as far east as Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes

                      Prov/State Abrev. List

                      In Yukon: Rare, mostly found in Central Yukon, West of longitude 135.

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