The greater yellow lady’s slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) is a large, showy orchid, typically with multiple stems attached to solitary flowers. The flowers’s sepals and outer petals comes in colors ranging from green-yellow to purplish-brown, always featuring a “slipper” of pale to deep yellow (Roth 2008). This perennial herb originates from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but is distributed throughout most of North America (Velardi 2013).
This plant is one of the most widespread orchid species in North America. There is evidence for local adaptation among populations, suggesting that collections development and restoration of this species is best accomplished by using locally sourced germplasm. Furthermore, although relatively commonly grown at U.S. public gardens, most collections at public gardens consist of relatively few individual plants from commercial sources and lack provenance data, resulting in reduced conservation value.
To combat these issues, Longwood Gardens has initiated a Plant Conservation Program aimed at propagation and conservation horticulture research of regionally rare native orchids. The greater yellow lady’s slipper can be found throughout Pennsylvania, but has become rare in Chester County, where Longwood Gardens is located. Therefore, this species was chosen as the first to be included in the Conservation Program. Work was initiated in 2015 when permission was granted to collect seeds from last known population of the species in Chester County, only eight miles from the gardens. An additional population was discovered in 2016 and permission was obtained to work with that population as well.
CPC is thrilled with the Plant Conservation Program Longwood Gardens has developed. We thank them for saving plants!
photo credit: Larry Albee
Yellow Lady Slippers photo credit: Richard Bonnett