The Elusive Minnesota Lady Slipper
Our Minnesota state flower, the pink and white Lady Slipper, is beautiful and in bloom if you know where to look! I had not seen one of these beauties in person until just a couple of years ago while on a drive with my sister. Until then, I had NO idea just how pretty this amazing flower is.
Found living in open fens, bogs, swamps, and damp woods where there is an abundance of natural light, the showy Lady 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.
The Pink and White Lady 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 or yellow.
There are more than 10,000 Showy Lady Slippers along the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway, between Cass Lake and Blackduck Minnesota. Highway 1 to Northome is a feast for the eyes as well.
Due to the rarity of this wildflower, it is illegal to pick, uproot or unearth the flowers according to a state law enacted in 1925.
If you haven't done so, take a drive and catch a glimpse of these amazing flowers that are currently in bloom. You may have to battle some bugs in the ditches if you want to see them up close, but I promise it will be worth it.
The pink and white lady slipper can live longer than the average human life span – some species may grow be 100 years old!