View Full Version : Protecting Lady Slippers

05-17-2005, 07:52 PM
Sorry, no pictures. Maybe I can coax Dr Wu to bring his camera.

Does anyone know anything about Massachusetts laws protecting Lady Slippers? Google has been mostly unfruitful. (http://www.usgennet.org/usa/nh/state/main/lslipper.html) I did learn about some lotto game from called 'Old Ladies In Slippers'.

I found over two dozen lady slippers in the woods out back today. I took some horrible pictures with the digital camera. Badger Girl (Mrs Barbarossa) found at least two specimens to be breath taking.

Some of these orchids are on land in imminent danger of development. If I can do something to stop the bulldozers, I would like to do so.

05-17-2005, 08:21 PM
If you mean pink lady slipper, (also called moccasin flower) Cypripedium acaule, it is not a protected plant. There are a couple of cypripedia that are protected. You can visit Mass Wildlife Natural Heritage website to see.


05-17-2005, 08:53 PM
In NH (and I would expect it is similar throughout New England), laws protecting plants at the state level do not prevent destruction of plants or their habitat if the landowner wishes to do so (the rules change for Federally listed endangered/threatened species), they just make it illegal for someone else to steal/damage them, or for anyone to sell/import/export threatened and endangered species. NH has a category called "species of special concern" which extends this protection to common but overcollected plants such as pink lady's slipper and trailing arbutus. (see http://www.nhdfl.org/formgt/nhiweb/Questions.htm and http://www.nhdfl.org/formgt/nhiweb/rare&imperiled_plants.htm)

I did run across this, unsure of its veracity.

<begin soapbox>
IMHO the time to stop bulldozers and protect plants is long before the bulldozers are there, long before the planning board approves a subdivision or mall, long before the developers sign a purchase & sales agreement, long before the real estate agents put their signs up, and long before a benevolent landowner dies / goes into a nursing home / moves to Florida / has to send kids to college. Support your local land conservation trust & give them some reasons why they should help preserve natural areas you enjoy.
<end soapbox>

05-17-2005, 09:51 PM
If you are thinking of moving them, and you have permission, they are very difficult to transplant and may not re-establish themselves. One resource that may be helpful is the Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA. http://www.newfs.org/garden.htm As I recall the Garden has an annual flower sale and Lady Slippers are among the plants for sale.

Good luck,


05-18-2005, 09:45 AM
Garden in the Woods does indeed sell lady slippers and they are quite unlike those in the wild although they appear the same. First, they require a bit more sun than most locations I've seen in the wild. Second, they prefer soil more alkaline than the wild ones. They like moist soil. They are also very expensive.

I've been kayaking to places where lady slippers flourish in huge quanities, almost like a ground cover. At Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustice I once saw three lady slippers growing together ... a pink, yellow and white one. Cultivated or natural? That's the mustery.

05-18-2005, 12:08 PM
I remember growing up around Boston sighting Lady Slippers seemed to be a rare treat. Last year while hiking in the Fellsway area of Medford/Winchester one day I must have seen a couple hundred of them. I was amazed!

05-18-2005, 01:34 PM
Last year I treid to save 10 lady slippers on land that was going ot be and now is developed. Out of the ten only three have survived. . The seem to like areas near oak trees and white pine you might find them near gum trees also. They like shade and acidic soil. and do not transplant well. It takes up to 15 years for them to grow from seed to flowering plant wich needs a fungus to make it germinate.
White lady slippers are not as common as pink ones .
One way to stop development or at least slow it down is to find wetland on or directly boarding the land being developed also if it is on a hill the people who live down hill from the planned development can hold it up if they have wells and the devlopment will cause thier wells to dry up or they will have to have new ones drilled deeper.They could as a class take the devloper to court and challnege the developent or try to get the developer to pay for thier wells to be re drilled.

05-18-2005, 01:53 PM
I had a cultivated yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum, I think, for the wild sp.), purchased many years ago from (I think) the John Scheepers catalogue. Apparently not wild-gathered but cultivated (that was the reassurance, which I have no reason to doubt, as this is a very reputable firm) the plant did well for about ten years. Then some critter burrowed through it under the snowpack and that's the last I saw of it. Quite lovely.

I think that I would make the attempt if I saw some on property that was to be developed. As I recall, we planted two, and one survived (as I say) quite well. I would NOT gather them from any wild place, as I think that's pretty heinous.


05-18-2005, 06:15 PM
I know they are protected in New Jersey and I beilve they are endagered in NJ as well. Although I find it hard to believe considering I see them all around the Kittatinny's as well as the Northern Highlands area.

It would be nice to plant some in the yard but I think it is more of a treat to find them on a hike.

05-18-2005, 08:29 PM
Thanks for all the pointers.

This patch of woods has white, pale pink, and deep pink flowers. There are not of the endangered varieties, so this alone will not halt development.

Some interesting things I learned from browsing:

They are extremely difficult to transplant. Even if they take, they may not more than a year.

The fungus necessarry for growth has not been determined. Botanists know the genus, but not the species. Such an exotic mystery flowers!

My mother in law has been considering paying $160 to a nursery for one, but she needs her soil tested. That's all I'm saying about that.

05-18-2005, 08:44 PM
While on the subject of orchids and their idiosyncracies, one of the rarest in the NE is the Lesser Whorled Pogonia (as I tell my friends on hikes, ad nauseam, in the hopes that one day they will spot one).

It's a small yellow orchid with a whorl of leaves rather like that of cucumber root (only one tier, not two). The less-rare Whorled Pogonia has two long horn-like structures extending from the flower. These are only present in a rudimentary form in its little cousin.

Few stations for this plant are known. One reason is that it goes dormant for ten to fifteen years at a time, totally underground. There is a voucher specimen from my village in Albany, dated circa 1910 (?). It has not been sighted since, and the naturalist who took the specimen failed to note precisely where!

If you see one, stop, make a note of location, and let a botanist know. While not quite an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. this is way up there in rarity.