Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens)

Photo Credit: Orchi © 2012
  • Global Rank: T5 - Secure
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • State: AB, AL, AZ, BC, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MB, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NB, NC, ND, NE, NF, NH, NJ, NM, NS, NY, OH, ON, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, SD, SK, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
  • Nature Serve ID: 134081
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Categories of Interest: Orchids
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

The greater yellow lady's slipper 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 taxon blooms from late May to June. The unique slipper structure is typical of members in the Cypripedioideae subfamily, often referred to as a labellum (Forrester 2011).

Where is Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) located in the wild?


This taxon prefers partial sun in moist conditions, typically in calcareous swamp areas and damp, coniferous forests, but has also been limestone barrens, tundra, tall grass prairies, and steep, montane slopes. With a broad habitat range, this variety is in decline due to collecting pressure, habitat degradation, climate change, and unregulated herbivory (Velardi 2013).


This perrenial herb originates from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but is distributed throughout most of North America (Velardi 2013). The only states/provinces throughout the U.S. and Canada where it does not occur naturally are California, Nevada, Oregon, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Nunvut, and the Northwest Territories (NatureServe 2016).

States & Provinces:

Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper can be found in Alabama, Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Newfoundland, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Rhode Island, Saskatchewan, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Which CPC Partners conserve Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Peter Zale
  • 01/05/2018

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens is one of the most widespread orchid species in North America.  It exhibits considerable phenotypic and genetic variation, habitat preference and relative abundance over its range. 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. 
Using the tissue culture techniques, we have developed a protocol for culturing immature seeds (embryos) of the greater yellow lady’s slipper harvested at 50 days after pollination.  Immature seed capsules are harvested and sown on appropriate media in our tissue culture laboratory and incubated in test tubes for 12 to 18 months.  After this time, they are removed and transplanted to the nursery conditions where they will be expected to flower for the first time after an additional 3 to years of growth.  So far we have been able to raise hundreds of C. parviflorum var. pubescens (and other taxa) seedlings from these efforts indicating that our protocol is useful for large-scale propagation of North American Cypripedium species.  Plants resulting from this work will be used to restore and supplement natural populations, and used to develop genetically diverse ex situ display collections with high conservation value.

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Taxon Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens
Authority (Willdenow) O.W. Knight
Family Orchidaceae
CPC Number 15998
ITIS 534229
Duration Perennial
Common Names Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper
Associated Scientific Names Cypripedium planipetalum | Cypripedium pubescens | Cypripedium furcatum | Cypripedium calceolus var. planipetalum | Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens | Cypripedium pubescens var. pubescens | Cypripedium assurgens | Cypripedium aureum | Cypripedium bulbosum var. flavescens | Cypripedium bulbosum var. pubescens | Cypripedium calceolus f. rupestre | Cypripedium flavescens | Cypripedium luteum var. angustifolium | Cypripedium luteum var. biflorum | Cypripedium luteum var. concolor | Cypripedium luteum var. glabrum | Cypripedium luteum var. grandiflorum | Cypripedium luteum var. maculatum | Cypripedium luteum var. pubescens | Cypripedium parviflorum var. planipetalum | Cypripedium undatum | Cypripedium veganum
Distribution This perrenial herb originates from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but is distributed throughout most of North America (Velardi 2013). The only states/provinces throughout the U.S. and Canada where it does not occur naturally are California, Nevada, Oregon, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Nunvut, and the Northwest Territories (NatureServe 2016).
State Rank
State State Rank
Alberta S3
Alabama S3
Arizona S1
British Columbia S3
Colorado SNR/SU
Connecticut SNR/SU
District of Columbia SX
Delaware S1
Georgia S3
Idaho S1
Illinois S3
Indiana S3
Kansas SNR/SU
Kentucky S4
Massachusetts S1
Manitoba S5
Maryland SNR/SU
Maine SNR/SU
Michigan SNR/SU
Minnesota SNR/SU
Missouri SNR/SU
Mississippi S2
Montana SNR/SU
New Brunswick S4
North Carolina S3
North Dakota S2
Nebraska SNR/SU
Newfoundland S3
New Hampshire S2
New Jersey S3
New Mexico S2
Nova Scotia S2
New York S3
Ohio S4
Ontario S5
Pennsylvania S4
Prince Edward Island S2
Quebec S3
Rhode Island S1
South Carolina S3
South Dakota SNR/SU
Saskatchewan S2
Tennessee SNR/SU
Texas SNR/SU
Utah S1
Virginia S4
Vermont S3
Washington SNR/SU
Wisconsin SNR/SU
West Virginia S4
Wyoming S2
Ecological Relationships


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