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Yellow Lady’s Slipper

The flower of the Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus) is incomparable.  This orchid’s stems grow up to 70cm and are a seriously endangered species in Austria and a protected species according to the flora-fauna-habitat guideline from  the European Union (FFH-guideline; target: preservation and restoration of the biological variety by setting up the Natura 2000 European Preservation Network). 

Its big labellum is yellow, while its twirled flowers shimmer in red-brown in the sunlight. Many insects find lady’s slippers irresistible. The yellow lady’s slipper attracts with its intensive colour. Curious visitors fall from the slippery edge of the slipper into its inside. Once caught, the insects search for an exit and mistake a translucent spot of the lower labellum at the back of flower or on it. On their way outside, the insects pass the stigma and pollinate the flower.

A lady’s slipper seedpod contains about 40,000 tiny seeds that are dispersed by the wind. The seeds can only sprout with certain soil fungi (mycorrhizae). It takes about 7 to 15 years before the plant is flowering. A specific feature of the lady’s slipper is  its rhizomes, which also serve as storage organs. If there are ideal conditions, lady’s slippers can also reproduce  via this rhizome (asexually) and get a bigger dense-clumping morphology.
Half-shady locations in clear forests on chalky soil are its living area. The flowering period begins in mid-May. It last to approximately mid-June.

The endangerment of the species is the result of the destruction of the living area. But also the beauty of the plant has often been its undoing. Lady’s slipper populations are often endangered because of ruthless plundering, plucking and digging out.

The lady’s slipper area in the Martinauer Au has been supervised voluntary and with plenty of commitment by the mountain rescue team during the blooming period for many years.

» Lady’s slipper area folder (Download 3.0 MB)
» More information on the lady’s slipper area

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