Monday, October 11, 2010

Cypripedium kentuckiense(Southern Lady's Slipper)

Status Status is improving. Recent field surveys have increased the number of known populations. Previously, the species was a Category 2 (58 FR 188; September 30, 1993), but currently has no Federal status.

Life History :
Lady's slipper is a long-lived herbaceous perennial. It flowers from mid-April to late May. Fruits develop in late fall.

Habitat :
Mature floodplain forests and the slopes of mesic (relatively dry) ravines.

Distribution :
Lady's slipper is found on the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky and northern Tennessee; the Interior Highlands of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma; and the Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Oklahoma populations are restricted to four southeastern counties: McCurtain, Leflore, Choctaw, and Pushmataha.

Field Characters :
There is only one other species of yellow lady's slipper orchid in Oklahoma: the small yellow lady's slipper (Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum). The large flowers of southern lady's slipper readily distinguishes it from small lady's slipper. Also, the small yellow lady's slipper typically is found in bog and wet prairie habitats.

Causes of Decline :
Fifty percent of the known populations of southern lady's slipper are now extirpated. A few others could not be verified. The habitat of the southern lady's slipper is threatened by logging, the conversion of natural forests into pine plantations, and reservoir construction (for example, permanent inundation of floodplain forests). All species of lady's slipper are intolerant of human disturbances. Also, orchids are prized by plant collectors, a practice that has endangered several plant species. Unfortunately, very few native orchids survive being transplanted into greenhouse pots or flower gardens.

Recovery Needs :
Sites that harbor southern lady's slippers need to be protected from logging and water-table alteration.

Description :
lady's slipper grows between 2 and 3 feet (6-9 dm) tall. Stems bear both leaves and flowers. There is usually one stem per plant. Leaves are alternate and range in number from two to nine, five being the most common. They are 5 1/2 to 6 5/16 inches (14-16 cm) long by 2 3/8 to 3 1/8 inches (6-8 cm) long. Leaf blades are oval in shape. Margins taper gradually from the middle of the blade and with a twist at the apex. Venation is parallel with seven highly noticeable veins. A few hairs occur only along the veins. Inflorescences are composed of typically one solitary flower per plant. A bract, 3 1/8 inches (8 cm) long and 1 1/16 inches (2.8 cm) wide, extends from a petiole (=leaf stalk) beneath each flower. Flowers are yellow with maroon stripes on the inside of the lower petals. Flowers are 5 inches (13 cm) across, which is large for a Temperate Zone orchid species. The calyx consists of three sepals. The uppermost sepal, which is the largest of the three, arches over the lower petal of the flower. It measures approximately 2 1/2 inches (6.8 cm) long and 1 1/2 inches (3.2 cm) wide. The lower two sepals are fused into an organ that is positioned below the lower most petal. It is approximately 2 1/2 inches (5.7 cm) long and 3/4 inch (1.3 cm) wide. The corolla is composed of three petals. The lower most petal is the largest ( 2 inches [5 cm] long by 1 1/2 [3.8 cm] wide). It is inflated to form a pouch (=lip). The other two petals are up to 3 1/8 inches (8 cm) long, and narrow, around 4/16 inch (7 mm) wide and twisted. Stamens and pistils are united in the orchid family to form a column. The column curves down onto the upper most portion of the lip. Two fertile stamens and one nonfunctional stamen are present. The nonfunctional stamen resembles a small petal. The pistil is composed of a terminal stigma and an ovary with three faint lobes. Fruits are a wide capsule that are approximately 3/4 inch (1.3 cm) wide by about 2 1/2 (6.3 cm) long. Seeds are abundant and very small.

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