Cypripedium calceolus pubescens

Botanical Name: Cypripedium calceolus pubescens
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Cypripedioideae
Genus: Cypripedium
Species: C. calceolus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms: C. flavescens. C. pubescens. Willd. C. parviflorum pubescens.

Common Names: Nerve Root , Lady’s-slipper orchid, Yellow lady’s slipper, Moccasin flower, or Hairy yellow ladyslipper

Habitat :Cypripedium calceolus pubescens occurs in N. America to E. Asia – Japan. It grows in rich woods and meadows. Mesic deciduous and coniferous forest, openings, thickets, prairies, meadows and fens at elevations of 0 – 2900 metres

Description:
Cypripedium calceolus pubescens is a perennial orchid plant. It is 1–2½’ tall and usually unbranched. The central stem is round in circumference, rather stout, and densely covered with hair. Three or more leaves alternate along this stem. These leaves are up to 6″ long and 4″ across; they are oval-ovate to ovate, smooth along their margins, and pubescent. Parallel veins are readily observable along the upper surface of each leaf. The base of each leaf clasps the stem. The color of the foliage can vary from dark green to yellowish green, depending on growing conditions and the maturity of the plant. The central stem terminates in 1 or 2 flowers. Each flower is held above the foliage on a long stalk that has a single leafy bract behind the flower. This bract resembles the leaves, but it is smaller in size and lanceolate in shape. Like other orchids, each flower has 3 petals and 3 sepals. However, because two of these sepals are fused together, there appears to be only 2 sepals.

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The lower petal is in the shape of a slipper or a pouch with an opening on top; it is bright yellow, shiny, and 1½–2″ in length. Within the interior of this petal, there are frequently reddish brown dots. The 2 lateral petals are very narrow, more or less twisted, and 2–3½” in length. These 2 petals vary in color from greenish yellow to brownish purple and they have fine veins running from their bases to their tips. The sepals form an upper hood and a lower hood. They are broader and shorter than the lateral petals, otherwise their appearance is similar. Both the lateral petals and sepals are more or less pubescent. The reproductive organs are located toward the posterior of the slipper-like lower petal. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 3 weeks. There is usually no noticeable floral scent. If a flower is successfully pollinated by insects (often this doesn’t occur), it will form a seedpod. When this seedpod splits open, the fine seeds are easily carried aloft by the wind. The root system consists of a tuft of fleshy fibrous roots. When several plants occur together, they are often clonal offsets of the mother plant.
Cultivation:
Succeeds in shade or full sun so long as there is adequate moisture. Grows well in a woodland garden. Plants are best grown on a north or north-west aspect in order to slow down early growth. Requires a humus rich soil with plenty of moisture in the growing season, it also succeeds in chalky soils. Must not be planted too deeply. A very ornamental plant it is long-lived when once established, though it is very difficult to establish a plant. The flowers have a soft, rose-like aroma. Plants are growing very well at the Savill Gardens in Windsor. This plant is becoming very rare in the wild due to overcollecting for medicinal usage. Reports that the plant is cultivated for its medicinal uses are largely spurious and, unless you can be certain that the root has come from a cultivated source, it is best not to use this plant medicinally but to use suitable substitutes such as Scutellaria laterifolia and Lavendula angustifolia. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid.
Propagation:
Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move. Division with care in early spring, the plants resent disturbance. Remove part of the original rootball with the soil intact. Division is best carried out towards the end of the growing season, since food reserves are fairly evenly distributed through the rhizome. Small divisions of a lead and two buds, or divisions from the back (older) part of the rhizome without any developed buds, establish quickly using this method. Replant immediately in situ.

Medicinal Uses:

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Antidiarrhoeal; Antispasmodic; Diaphoretic; Hypnotic; Nervine; Sedative; Tonic.

Nerve root has a high reputation for its sedative and relaxing effect on the nervous system. The root is a pungent bitter-sweet herb with an unpleasant odour. It was much used by the North American Indians who used it as a sedative and antispasmodic to ease menstrual and labour pains and to counter insomnia and nervous tension. The root is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia, depression and tension headaches. The active ingredients are not water soluble and so the root is best taken in the form of a tincture. The plant is said to be the equivalent of Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) in its effect as a nervine and sedative, though it is less powerful. Another report says that its restorative effect appears to be more positive than that of valerian. The roots are harvested in the autumn and are dried for later use. In the interests of conservation, it is best not to use this herb unless you can be certain it was obtained from a cultivated source – see the notes above under cultivation details.

Lady’s slipper 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.  Lady’s slipper 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.  Lady’s slipper is often compared to valerian, although valerian doesn’t create the uncomfortable side effects.

Known Hazards : Contact with the fresh plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. Large doses can cause hallucinations. Large doses may result in dizziness, restlessness, headaches, mental excitement and visual hallucinations. Avoid with allergies. Avoid during pregnancy.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypripedium_calceolus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cypripedium+calceolus+pubescens
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/yl_ladyslipper.htm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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