Land of Lakes and Mocassins.

While in the Air Force many years ago, I flew into Minneapolis, Minnesota, and while on the approach, I noticed these strange, reflective circles scattered over the countryside. It took a few minutes to realize these were frozen lakes and ponds and they were everywhere I looked. If only the Minnesota State Wildflower were as plentiful! The Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium reginae) has many common names -the Pink and White Lady’s Slipper, the Queen’s Lady’s Slipper, and, my favorite, the Mocassin Flower.

Truly regal in appearance is the Queen’s Lady’s Slipper – a literal translation of its Latin name.

Found living in open fens, bogs, swamps, and damp woods where there is an abundance of natural light, the showy Lady’s Slipper is one of 43 orchid species that grow in Minnesota. The feminine-looking orchid grows slowly, taking up to 16 years to produce the first flowers! Blooming in late June or early July, the plants may live, on average, about 50 years and can grow to be over four feet tall. Some specimans are estimated to be 100 years old!

The Pink and White Lady’s Slipper is a brightly colored orchid with one or sometimes two blossoms on a single stem. White petals sit atop a white pouch (slipper) which is streaked with pink, making it truly unique. Hairy oval leaves clasp the stem. These beauties can actually be found with gorgeous tones of pink, red, white and even green.

A century ago, the ostentatious Pink and White Lady’s Slipper was a favorite adornment in rural church altars during the summer. Since 1925, this rare wildflower has been protected by Minnesota state law. In fact, it’s illegal to pick, uproot or unearth the flowers.

The Mocassin Flower likes wet areas and can be grown in home gardens with plenty of indirect light.

The Lady Slipper family has relatives scattered across the world and two of the native American varieties that are occasionally encountered are the Yellow Lady’s Slipper and the Pink Lady’s Slipper. Both are found in North Georgia and I had a small community growing in my woods at my mountain cabin in Fannin County.

The Yellow Lady’s Slipper’s natural range extends to North Georgia and the Smoky Mountains.
The Pink Lady’s Slipper can be found on remote hikes in the Georgia mountains.
Although not related to the Lady’s Slipper, the Showy Orchus is occasionally found nearby to blooming Mocassin Flowers.
The Showy Mocassin Flower in all its splendor!

Look for the Lady’s Slippers in North Georgia in May and if you are fortunate to be in Minnesota in June and July, there are many local Lady Slipper festivals that celebrate the heritage and culture of this long-lived wildflower.

Say good-by to Minnesota – Land of Lakes and Mocassins as we are headed south to Mississippi which is somewhat ironic as the Mississippi River has its source in Minnesota!
Lake Itasca – Source of the Mississippi River. It all starts here.

1 thought on “Land of Lakes and Mocassins.

  1. We’ve been to Minnesota once, it was a beautiful place!!! Although it was summertime, if we go back we will have to look for this beautiful flower.

    Like

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