Fairy slipper


The fairy slipper is perhaps the first wild orchid to bloom each spring. It seems to have evolved to fool the earliest of pollinators, queen bees, into pollinating it — yet the fairy slipper offers bees no rewards in return.

Some years I have seen dozens of fairy slippers as early as mid-April at my favourite observing spot. This year it was mid-May before I saw even one — indeed, at that time, there was only one to be seen.

There are two varieties of fairy slipper in North America: the eastern and the western. The western isn’t found east of the Rocky Mountains. However, we get both varieties.

This bloom is the eastern variety, which blooms earlier than the western.


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4 Responses to Fairy slipper

  1. Allan Hobden says:

    Oooooohhh…we know two `secret spots where we can find them…we have been looking but none yet for us..both areas face east. They are beautiful..we see mostly pink ones..and have only seen a few white ones. Allan.

  2. mandy bath says:

    I used to look out for them every year on an easterly slope in Johnson’s Landing. That place now lies under the landslide, sadly. Mandy

  3. Deyanne Davies says:

    Beautiful photo! I have been checking a couple spots where I usually see them here in Rossland, still waiting! There used to be a large patch, also on an east facing slope, but haven’t seen them there for a couple years. Deyanne

  4. Karen Pidcock says:

    Thanks, Alistair, have been looking in the one forest location I’ve seen it several years, but not yet this year. Growing up on Orcas Island, school friends brought bouquets of them to school, believe it or not! Wonder if any are still growing and blooming there now!!

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