≡ Menu

Plant Profile: California Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium californicum)

California lady’s slipper is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the orchid family, Orchidaceae.  It is native to  the mountains of northern California and southwestern Oregon where it grows in serpentine wetlands such as  seeps, bogs, fens, and margins of woodland streams in open coniferous forests.  Plants may grow up to 4′ tall and  often form very large clumps.  Stems each carry 5-10 hairy, oval leaves that are pleated and 6-8″ long.  Ten to twelve one flowers are carried on each stem in the axils of leafy bracts in late spring to early summer.  The flowers are about 1″ across and have yellowish brown sepals and petals, and  a white pouch sometimes  with brown or pink touches.  The genus name, Cypripedium, comes from the Greek words Kypris referring to the island where Venus was worshiped, and pedilon, meaning slipper referring to the shape of the flower. The specific epithet,  californicum, is the Latinized form of the plants native home state.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: One inch long flowers with yellowish brown sepals and petals and a white pouch sometimes with brown or pink touches, in late spring to early summer

Size: 1-4′ H x 1′ W

Light:Partial shade, bright light but not direct sunlight

Soil:Wet, even boggy

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: Difficult to grow

Pests and Diseases: Slugs, snails

Propagation: Division

Companion Plants:Pitcher plant, lanceleaf violet, Iris pseudacorus


Photo Credit: Bill Bouton ,Wikimedia Commons