Slipper orchid (Cypripedium lentiginosum)
|Size||Length of leaves: up to 16 cm (2)|
Length of flower stalk: 3.5 - 4 cm (2)
Listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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).
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).
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).
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).
This orchid is widely available commercially in Japan, Taiwan and Europe (2).
Further research is needed to investigate the range of this newly described species in the wild, especially whether it occurs in neighbouring Vietnam (2).
For further information on the conservation of orchids see:
- Orchid Conservation International:
- Orchid Conservation Coalition:
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- 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)