Cypripedium guttatum spotted lady’s slipper

Alaska Wildflowers | White | Purple

Cypripedium guttatum spotted lady’s slipper

Cypripedium guttatum spotted lady’s slipper

Common Names

cypripède tacheté
spotted lady’s slipper

Synonyms

none

Subspecies

none

Genus: Cypripedium
Family: Orchidaceae
Order: Asparagales
taxonomic heirarchy

Etymology

Scientific Name: Cypripedium guttatum

The genus name Cypripedium is derived from the Greek words “Kypris” (a name for the goddess Aphrodite) and “pedilon” (meaning slipper). This name reflects the flower’s distinctive slipper-shaped pouch, which is said to resemble a lady’s slipper.



The species epithet guttatum comes from the Latin word “guttatus,” meaning “spotted” or “speckled.” This refers to the spotted appearance of the flower’s pouch, which is a defining characteristic of this species.

Common Name: Spotted Lady’s Slipper

The common name “Spotted Lady’s Slipper” reflects the plant’s appearance. “Lady’s slipper” describes the flower’s slipper-shaped pouch, while “spotted” indicates the distinctive spots found on the pouch.

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Cypripedium guttatum, commonly known as spotted lady’s slipper, is a perennial herb in the orchid family (Orchidaceae) that typically grows 12-35 cm tall. It features a showy, purple-spotted, and inflated flower. The plant grows from long rhizomes, producing a single stem per plant, and is often found in clusters. It most commonly has two, but occasionally three, leaves growing from mid-stem. The leaves are alternate to subopposite, with lance-ovate or ovate-elliptic blades, each exhibiting parallel veins. The entire plant, including the flower, is covered in small hairs.

The flowers of Cypripedium guttatum are solitary, erect, and bilaterally symmetric, a characteristic common to all orchids. It has a leaf-like bract that originates below the flower, clasps the stem, and stands upright. The sepals and petals are white with purple, pink, or reddish markings (spots). The dorsal sepal, often called the hood, is typically white with colored edges. It is ovate to suborbiculate-elliptic in shape, meaning it ranges from egg-shaped to nearly circular-elliptic, measuring 12–28 mm long and 6–19 mm wide. The lateral sepals are connate, forming a single structure called a synsepal, which is 12–21 mm long and 3–8 mm wide. The most striking feature is the lower petal (referred to as the lower lip or slipper), which is similarly colored and subglobose to obovoid, measuring 15–30 mm long. It is inflated and sac-like, with an orifice that is 10–24 mm wide. The spotting and coloration of the flowers can vary widely, even within local populations. The fruit is an ellipsoid capsule containing many minute seeds.

Cypripedium guttatum can be differentiated from other local species of Cypripedium by having only two stem leaves, while others often have more.


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Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

While Cypripedium guttatum has no specific documented uses, other species within the Cypripedium genus have been traditionally used for various purposes, ranging from medicinal to ornamental.

Other Cypripedium species, such as Cypripedium parviflorum and Cypripedium calceolus, have been used in traditional medicine. The roots of these orchids are often employed for their sedative and nerve-relaxing properties. They have been used to treat conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and other nervous disorders.

Cypripedium species are highly valued in horticulture for their unique and striking flowers. They are often cultivated in gardens and as ornamental plants in various settings.


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Distribution and Habitat

Map data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), NatureServe Explorer, and Kew

Cypripedium guttatum is found in northwestern North America, including Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Its range extends from Siberia to Eastern Europe and down through Mongolia, parts of China, Korea, and Japan.

This species grows in open, deciduous and spruce forests, tundra, and meadows.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
ClassMagnoliopsida 
SuperorderLilianae (monocots, monocotyledons, monocotylédones)
OrderAsparagales 
FamilyOrchidaceae (orchids)
GenusCypripedium L. (lady’s slipper)
SpeciesCypripedium guttatum Sw. (spotted lady’s slipper)

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References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Pratt, V. E. (1989). Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers: Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways (p. 20). Alaskakrafts, inc.

Johnson, D., Kershaw, L., & MacKinnon, A. (2020). Plants of the Western Forest: Alaska to Minnesota Boreal and Aspen Parkland (3rd ed., p. 91). Partners Publishing. ISBN 978-1772130591.

Brandenburg, D. M. 2010. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America. Sterling Publishing. (p. 378)

Classification and Taxonomy

VASCAN. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/6858?lang=en

ITIS. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=43544#null

USDA NRCS. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=CYGU

Uses

Native American Ethnobotany Database. (2024). Cypripedium. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from http://naeb.brit.org/uses/search/?string=cypripedium

Pollinator Partnership. (2024). Cypripedium draft. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator.org/assets/generalFiles/Cypripedium.draft.pdf

Map and Distribution

GBIF. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://www.gbif.org/species/2820441

NatureServe Explorer. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.130189/Cypripedium_guttatum

Plants of the World Online. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:625764-1

Description and Information

Flora of North America. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from http://floranorthamerica.org/Cypripedium_guttatum

Hultén, E. (1968). Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories: A Manual of the Vascular Plants (1st ed.) (pg. 315). Stanford University Press.

University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Center for Conservation Science. (2024). Cypripedium guttatum. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://ecologicalatlas.uaf.edu/index.php/browse-plant-species/atlas-page/?nps_id=639

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