Lady’s Slipper Orchid

Cypripedium calceolis

Overjoyed to find one of the carefully guarded English Lady’s Slipper Orchids in flower.
For those who don’t know the history of this rare and beautiful orchid I should mention that twenty years ago it was very near to extinction in the U.K. There was just one wild plant left in woodland in the Yorkshire Dales.
Its decline in the 19th C. was thought to have been brought about partly by thousands of blooms being picked and sold in local markets.

Over the last two decades botanists at Kew have led a national effort to propagate many hundreds of plants and to reintroduce them in carefully selected sites mainly in the north of England.

Most of these sites are carefully kept secrets. There is one site in a National Nature Reserve near here however, where people are invited to come and see the plants each year at flowering time. Unfortunately this year the plants on this site are not doing too well, probably because of the extremely low rainfall over the past six weeks. And in any case the open days may not take place because of the coronavirus emergency. I do not know for certain if that is the case.

This morning we took our walk to one of the several secret sites in this area and we were delighted to find this plant in flower and a number of other plants growing well. This site has more natural moisture than the public site.

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