Mystery Flower Up in the Woods
We have lived here for almost twenty years now, and yet almost every year I discover a new wildflower growing up there. I don’t know how much this is due to the maturing of the the woodlands, and how much is due to my making more of an effort to get up there during May, when all the spring ephemerals are blooming–and all the weeds are growing lustily in the cultivated gardens down by the house.
About a week ago I came across this plant, which I had never seen before:
A few days later I checked again, and it looked like this:
It seemed like it was taking its sweet time to open. I had a hunch about its identity at this point, but couldn’t confirm it. Wednesday and Thursday were both too busy to go up and look, so it wasn’t until early evening of the 15th, when I should have been writing my bloom day post, that I finally got to see this: Yes! A ladyslipper! All my reference books say Cypripedium acaule is the most common ladyslipper in eastern woodlands, and they all agree that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to grow in cultivation. Some of the other species are easier to grow, and they are offered for sale by reputable growers–but they’re pricey. “My” ladyslipper grows in poor, acid soil, which is what we have. No surprises there. Since our land had been logged off and turned into pasture, and is now second (or possibly even third) growth forest, I never expected ladyslippers to return, especially since trilliums do not seem to be re-establishing themselves. (I have planted some, but none have shown up on their own.)
I’m just thrilled.