Where to Find Lady Slipper Orchids
We are often asked where to find lady slipper orchids in the wild. They are increasingly rare, to be sure. But there are a number of places where ease-of-access and reliable populations make a field trip worthwhile. The destinations listed here are open to the public. And, each has adequate safeguards to protect plants from being damaged or stolen.
Of course, these special places wouldn't be here at all without the people and organizations who care for them. Fundraising professionals, preserve managers, stewards, volunteers, educators, and those who simply rally the public to care. If you feel moved by these amazing plants, please consider contributing to the equally-amazing organizations.
Bonnie Hawksworth is an avid nature-lover, and also a leading nonprofit consultant for environmental organizations. She served in several capacities for Shirley Heinze Land Trust, leading the organization's fundraising, outreach, programming, and engagement initiatives. During her nine-year tenure, Heinze Trust matured into one of the most respected land trusts in the country. Learn more about her background and services at bonniehawksworth.com.
AOS exists to promote the appreciation of orchids and deliver the most up-to-date, accurate, educational information about orchid culture. Also, the organization sponsors research and conservation initiatives to improve the outlook for orchids around the globe. Membership to the AOS may include digital access to the group's decades-old archive, an invaluable resource and alone worth the cost of a subscription.
Cedar Bog near Urbana, Ohio is a state-dedicated nature preserve and designated National Natural Landmark. It ranks the highest of any site in the state for its great diversity of plants. Most notably, the preserve is nationally-renowned for the large numbers of showy lady's-slipper orchids (Cypripedium reginae) that grow there.
Did you know there are more orchids native to the Indiana Dunes National Park than the State of Hawai'i? It's true. In fact, noted nature photographer, Peter Grube, has documented all the wild orchids with extant populations within the boundaries of the park. While native orchids were once commonplace in Northwest Indiana, their populations have dwindled due to development and other factors. You can still get a glimpse of several species on guided tours (offered most weekends during the summer) of Pinhook Bog, a unit of the park in LaPorte County.
The Lady Slipper Scenic Byway is a section of Beltrami County Highway 39 that winds throug Chipewa National Forest, in northern Minnesota. The stretch, between Cass Lake and Blackduck, is noted for the great number of showy lady's-slipper orchids (Cypripedium reginae) that grow along the roadside. There are several interprative sites along the way, including near Pennigton, where a short boardwalk affords close viewing of the lady’s slippers.
Wisconsin's first land trust, The Ridges Sanctuary protects globally imperiled ridge-and-swale topography in northern Door County, Wisconsin. The preserve is counts more than 500 plant species, including 25 species of native orchids. Also, it provides habitat for sixty species of breeding birds and twelve threatened or endangered species, including the federally endangered Hine’s Emerald dragonfly. Finally, The Ridges is home to the Bailey Harbor Range Lights and the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center, which serves as the preserve's nature center.
Finding the Elusive
Nothing quite compares to your first ... your first, in-the-wild lady's-slipper, that is—especially when it's the queen of them all. Tag along as Bonnie Hawksworth discovers Cypripedium reginae blooming in a northern sphagnum bog.