The pink lady's slipper orchid is one of nature's rarest and most spectacular wildflowers. I've been blessed to find her almost every spring since my first sighting as a child. Seeing her made me gasp in delight and my reaction hasn't changed decades later. If you have the fortune to come across her in the woods, she will most likely be growing in highly acidic soil. The months of May and June are the best times to search for her in the eastern United States.
The rhizomes of the plant, never the flower, have been used medicinally as a tonic for nervous disorders and insomnia. At one time the plant was used for protection against the evil eye, but as she has become more and more rare, it is our turn to protect her! Look but don't touch!
Her latin name, Cypripedium acaule, is loosely translated to mean a shoe of Venus. Native American Indians called her the moccasin flower.
The slipper like shape of the plant has inspired imaginative legends. One story from the Ojibwa tribe tells of an Indian maiden in search of medicine for members of her tribe who are desperately ill. As she wanders through the woods it begins to snow and her bare feet become bloodied from the sharp stones and debris along the snow covered path. After a long journey, she returns with the medicine. The following spring, pink lady's slippers spring up from her foot prints to honor her selfless journey.
Another legends tells of an Indian warrior who leaves his wife and daughter to fight in a battle. The daughter cries as he is departing and he consoles her by telling her he will bring her a pair of pink moccasins. Tragically, he dies in battle and his daughter then dies from heart ache. While visiting her grave site, her mother finds a pair of pink moccasins, the lovely lady slipper orchids, growing on her grave and is consoled that they have been reunited. My empathic nature couldn't help but wish for a happier ending for the mom!
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
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