Did you know that the pink and white lady slipper is Minnesota’s state flower? This delicate and beautiful flower has been a symbol of the North Star State since 1902. Minnesota Statutes 1902 section 1.142 spells out its adoption.
A 28-mile highway between Blackeduck, MN, and Cass Lake, MN, was once called the “Scenic Highway.” It’s now named the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway after the state flower.
What’s more, In 1990, Governor Rudy Perpich designated 81 miles of Highway 11 a Minnesota Wildflower Route due to the large number of Showy Lady’s Slippers growing there. The state of Minnesota put up signs with lady slipper graphics along this highway.
Also, several towns have held Lady Slipper festivals to honor Minnesota’s state flower.
The Pink and White Lady Slipper
The pink and white lady slipper (Cypripedium reginae) is a member of the orchid family. It is a perennial herb known by other names like showy lady’s slipper, fairy queen, queen’s lady slipper, and moccasin flower.
The lady slipper is quite a striking flower. The plant is stocky looking and grows from 0.3 ft up to 3 ft tall. The flowers are typically 2-3 inches long and have a magenta-pinkish pouch-shaped labellum in the center. It has two long petals that grow up to 2 inches in length. The ‘pouch’ part of the flower is usually a rose pink color, while the petals are white.
One of the unique things about the lady slipper is that it can take 4 to 16 years to produce its first flower. Although it grows slowly, the plant can live for up to 50 years.
The lady slipper grows naturally in wetlands like wooded swamp areas and riverbanks and can be found in parts of the Northern United States and Canada.
The rare flower used to be found in wooded swamp areas throughout Minnesota. It prefers areas with moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. They bloom in the summer months of June or July.
A Rare Flower
Sadly, habitat loss has reduced the chances of finding one these days. The sightings have been reported near Itasca State Park, Bemidji, and Cass Lakes. Others reported seeing Lady Slippers blooming in other parts of the state, including sheltered areas in the Twin Cities and several places in the south.
If you’re lucky enough to spot a pink and white lady slipper in the wild, be sure not to pick it! Lady slippers are rare and classified as endangered in some states. In Minnesota, it has been protected by state law since 1925, and picking the flower or uprooting the plant is illegal.
Taking flowers from the wild can damage delicate ecosystems and ultimately lead to the species’ decline.