Common Names: Large yellow lady’s slipper, Yellow moccasin-flower, Nerveroot, Noah’s ark, American valerian, Whippoorwill’s-shoe,Lady’s Slipper
(The specific epithet calceolus is the Latin meaning “little shoe,” in reference to the slipper-like shape of the labellum. The varietal name pubescens is the Latin meaning “downy” or “hairy,” in reference to the hairy nature of the plant.)
Habitat : Cypripedium pubescens is native to northern North America.In the southern part of Wisconsin, this variety is typically found growing in moist, rich deciduous woods. Further north it occurs in similar habitat but may also occur in boggy or swampy areas (where it also occasionally found in the south). The plant is rarely found in clayey soils, and shows a distinct preference for areas of limestone. In Door County, where this taxon is particularly numerous, it often grows in limestone gravel along roadsides.
Plant arising from a rhizome with a fascicle of numerous fibrous roots, 15-80 cm high; several to many stems may arise from the same rhizome. Leaves 3-5 (-6), ovate to ovate-lanceolate, plicate, 5-20 cm long and 4-10 cm wide; pubescent. Flowers 1-2, each subtended by a ovate to ovate-lanceolate, green foliaceous bract 4-10 cm long by 1-4 cm wide. Sepals apparently two (the result of the fusion of the two lateral sepals behind the labellum), green streaked with brown to brown (but highly variable in coloration); dorsal sepal ovate, 3-7 cm long and 1-3.5 cm wide; lateral sepals united and similar to dorsal sepal but typically spirally twisted, tip typically divided. Petals colored as sepals, linear-lanceolate, 4-9.5 cm long and typically less than 1 cm wide; petals usually spirally twisted. Labellum pouch-shaped, inflated, obovate, 1.5-6 cm long, opening above with inrolled edges; yellow streaked or spotted inside with madder-purple.
FLOWERING TIME: May 10-July 15.
POLLINATION: According to Stoutamire (1967), plants are pollinated by a number of different species of small bees, primarily adrenid and halictid bees. The plants are also visited and sometimes pollinated by a variety of Diptera.
Cypripedium pubescens used to be a specific remedy to overcome depression, mental anxiety, and troubled sleep. It was often recommended for women for both emotional and physical imbalances relating to menopause or menstruation, such as nervous tension, headaches, or cramps. Cypripedium pubescens is said to increase nervous tone after a long disease and to relax nervous muscle twitches. It is almost always given as an alcoholic tincture, since some constituents are not water-soluble. Cypripedium pubescens is often compared to valerian, although valerian doesn’t create the uncomfortable side effects.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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