Slipper orchid (Cypripedium lentiginosum)

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Slipper orchid Cypripedium lentiginosum in habitat
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Slipper orchid fact file

Slipper orchid description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderOrchidales
FamilyOrchidaceae
GenusCypripedium (1)

This slipper orchid was only discovered as recently as 1998 on an expedition to China (2). It is a striking terrestrial herb with large oblong leaves, which are found lying along the ground; they are a glossy dark green colour, distinctly spotted with black (2). This orchid bears large creamy white flowers atop a single flower stalk (or inflorescence). The petals curve inwards and both these and the lip are heavily marked with maroon spots (2).

Size
Length of leaves: up to 16 cm (2)
Length of flower stalk: 3.5 - 4 cm (2)
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Slipper orchid biology

Very little is known about this newly discovered orchid, new leafy shoots were observed to be emerging in early May with flowering taking place later in the same month (2). This species occurs further south than any other member of the genus (2).

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Slipper orchid range

In the wild this species is known only from the southeast of the province of Yunnan, in southern China (2). Several plants have also been grown in cultivation (2).

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Slipper orchid habitat

When discovered, Cypripedium lentiginosum was found growing on a mountainside at between 2150 and 2190 metres above sea level, associated with scrub and open woodland habitat (2).

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Slipper orchid status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

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Slipper orchid threats

This orchid is widely available commercially in Japan, Taiwan and Europe (2).

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Slipper orchid conservation

Further research is needed to investigate the range of this newly described species in the wild, especially whether it occurs in neighbouring Vietnam (2).

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Find out more

For further information on the conservation of orchids see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Herb
A small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Inflorescence
A group of flowers on a single stem. (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure)
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2003)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Cribb, P. (1999) A new species of Cypripedium from southeast Yunnan. Quart. Bull. Alp. Gard. Soc., 67(2): 155 - 158.
  3. CITES (February, 2003)
    http://www.cites.org
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Image credit

Slipper orchid Cypripedium lentiginosum in habitat  
Slipper orchid Cypripedium lentiginosum in habitat

© Phillip J. Cribb / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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