Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Lady’s Slippers

Pink Lady’s Slippers or Moccasin Flowers

An interesting article by Kyhl Lyndgaard opens with the following:

One year before the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, Almira Lincoln Phelps published the first edition of her  Familiar Lectures of Botany. Phelps wrote that “the Orchis tribe” are “opposing all attempts at civilization, [and] are to be found only in the depths of the forest…. we may, in this respect, compare them to the aboriginal inhabitants of America, who seem to prefer their own native wilds to the refinements and luxuries of civilized life.” Many species of native orchids were commonly called moccasin flowers at the beginning of the 19th century. Yet by 1900, the usual term was the same as that used in England: the lady’s slipper. This shift in plant names ominously mirrors social perceptions of the apparent need for Indian removal during the same period.

Lyndgaard continues with a brief sketch of the arrival of the “more civilized” term: Lady’s Slipper.

Description

These flowers are found in Maine and noticeable along hiking trails. A single flower is perched on a 12-inch stalk from several 7-inch oval shaped leaves at the base.  The veins in the flower are usually pink but occasionally pure white.

Habitat

They are found in the woods, especially under pine trees and bogs, blooming from May to June. These flowers do not transplant due to their dependence on the local soil composition.

Pink Lady's-slippers or Moccasin Flowers on the Saddle Back Mountain Trail (2004)

Pink Lady’s-slippers or Moccasin Flowers on the Saddle Back Mountain Trail (2004)

Additional resources

Lyndgaard, Khyl. “Taking Off the Moccasin Flower and Putting On the Lady’s Slipper.” Potash Hill: The Magazine of Marlboro College.  https://potash.marlboro.edu/node/60 (accessed June 29, 2015)

Pink Lady Slippers on the Heath Trail in the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham (2014)

Pink Lady Slippers on the Heath Trail in the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham (2014)

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This entry was last modified: June 29, 2015 05:53 PM

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