Yesterday we visited our favorite road ditch where Small Yellow (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin) and Small White Lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium candidum) grow with some of their children – what we call Small Cream Lady’s-slippers. There are also Greater Yellow Lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens). The Cypripedium are our favorite genus of wild orchids.

The top image is of a Greater Yellow Lady’s-slipper. The one just below is of two Small Yellow Lady’s-slippers. Among their differences is the shape of the slipper. The Greater are taller with longer stems.

The yellow ones are easy to spot in the tangle of vegetation in the ditch. These Small Yellows are only about 8 inches tall.

Nearby the Small Whites are a similar height and, like the Small Yellows, have rounded pouch-like slippers.

Orchids are among the plants that hybridize in the wild as well as with horticulturists help. That may be why there are estimated to be over 20,000 orchid species world-wide.  There are several clumps of cream colored Lady’s-slippers as well as individual plants interspersed in this colony of Small Yellow and Small White ones.

This tiny White Lady’s-slipper was snuggled down with another. The slipper was only about 3/4 inch long and the plant about 5 inches tall. It is the smallest white one we have encountered.

It seemed as if the yellow, white and cream lady’s-slippers were all it peak condition this holiday weekend. The sky was darkening as we finished and the storm did not begin until we were headed home.

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