Montana Outdoors

June 22, 2008

Mountain Lady’s Slipper

This member of the Orchid family is always a real treat to discover in the back country. It is near extinction in many areas and rare in others. Acting on a tip from a friend, I made a short trip into the Weeksville Creek area in the Cabinet Mountains today and found several dozen of them in bloom. Previously I had only seen them ten miles away, in the Coeur D’Alene mountains.

Mountain Lady’s slipper, Cypripedium montanum
Mountain Lady's slipper

Mountain Lady's slipper

Mountain Lady's slipper

Mountain Lady's slipper

Mountain Lady's slipper


  1. Oh, *lovely*! And such an extra special pleasure andtreat to see something that’s threatened making such a strong and gorgeous showing!

    (The fairy slippers are still the fanciest floral footwear though. :D)

    Thanks so much!


    Comment by Sara — June 22, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

  2. These are about twice the size of the Calypsos and much taller making them easier to spot if they’re around. Like you, I’m very pleased to see them prospering, at least in several locations that I know of.


    Comment by montucky — June 22, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

  3. WOW – beautiful! I didn’t know of these much less ever seen them!


    Comment by Ann from Montana — June 23, 2008 @ 5:29 am

  4. They aren’t abundant in Montana although they seem to be in California. NatureServe lists them as “Vulnerable” here. If they’re around they’re pretty easy to spot because they are large enough to see easily, contrast well against the greens and grow tall enough to get above most of the grasses.


    Comment by montucky — June 23, 2008 @ 7:54 am

  5. What a great find! I have yet to encounter any sort of lady’s slipper in the wild, although we supposedly have some here.


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — June 23, 2008 @ 9:03 am

  6. I have never seen a plant of that nature. Very cool!


    Comment by scienceguy288 — June 23, 2008 @ 9:09 am

  7. Adam,

    I fell in love with these as soon as I saw them. The look as though they might have a trillium somewhere back in their ancestry. I’m not sure, but I suspect they have a relatively short blooming season and so if you’re not in the right place at the right time you’d never know they’re there.


    Comment by montucky — June 23, 2008 @ 10:16 am

  8. Scienceguy,

    These are a western variety which the USDA shows only in a few western states and three provinces in Canada, but even though they grow in Montana there are lots of Montana natives who have never seen them either.


    Comment by montucky — June 23, 2008 @ 10:18 am

  9. Your trip was certainly well worth it!



    Comment by knightofswords — June 23, 2008 @ 2:13 pm

  10. You bet! I’d be happy to go a lot further to catch these blooming!


    Comment by montucky — June 23, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  11. Oooo, ooooo, oooooo!. Thanks so much for all these wonderful images of the Montana wildflowers. These lady slippers are a real treat. Great photos and wonderful images. I am just so envious of you for living in such a rich and beautiful place.


    Comment by nouveaufauves — June 23, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

  12. Seeing these is a treat for me too! I’m glad you enjoy seeing them. I hope a glimpse of the beauty of nature helps offset a little of the ugliness that is going on in the world.


    Comment by montucky — June 24, 2008 @ 7:01 am

  13. What an amazing flower Terry, you have conveyed it’s beauty so well with these images, great work !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — June 24, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

  14. Thanks, Bernie! Yes it sure is an amazing flower. I guess I’ve always somehow considered orchids to be fragile and difficult to raise, yet these little guys survive some very severe conditions and then bloom beautifully in the summer. Amazing!


    Comment by montucky — June 24, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  15. It’s been years since I have seen flowers such as this in the wild…indeed I need to get out more.


    Comment by Tabbie — June 25, 2008 @ 4:41 am

  16. Seeing many of them is quite easy in this area and others require a lot of effort but well worth it. These particular ones are growing quite close to a Forest Service road and are easy to reach for anyone. I’m surprised that so few folks go to see them.


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 9:06 am

  17. Hey Montucky, no need to take along hike to see these. I found them in my yard. I cant believe it.


    Comment by Douglas Cummins — June 28, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  18. In your yard! Wow! I lived in Missoula for a long time and don’t remember ever seeing them around there. You are indeed lucky! Thanks for the visit! By the way, a friend posted a photo today from Wisconsin of a Yellow Lady’s Slipper


    Comment by montucky — June 28, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

  19. I would like to report that a Lady Slipper has been spotted in the Little Rockie Mtns. on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.


    Comment by Morris Brockie — June 30, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

    • That’s cool! I’ve never been over there. Thanks for stopping by!


      Comment by montucky — June 30, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

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