Minnesota State Flower

Pink and White Lady's Slipper

Minnesota Flower - Pink and White Lady's Slipper

(Cypripedium reginae)

Adopted on February 19, 1902 ; 1967

The pink and white Lady Slipper, (Cypripedium reginae,) , also knows as the showy lady's slipper or queen's lady slipper was designated Senate Resolution as Minnesota state flower in 1967.

The Lady Slipper was considered the state flower long before it was officially passed into law. In 1893 a petition from the Women's Auxiliary to the World's Fair was presented to the Senate, asking that the Wild Lady Slipper, (Cyprideum calceolous,) be designated the state flower. The Senate adopted the resolution on February 4, 1893 (Senate Journal entry), but there is no evidence that the House adopted it. Also, the variety that was designated was not from Minnesota. In 1902 women of the St. Anthony Study Circle brought this to the attention of the Legislature. The Senate passed a new resolution on February 18, 1902, naming the pink and white lady slipper, (Cypripedium reginae,) also known as the showy lady slipper, as Minnesota's state flower (Senate Journal entries). The House concurred (House Journal entry).

On April 25, 1925, the Legislature passed a law saying that, "...no person within the State of Minnesota knowingly shall buy, sell, offer of expose for sale, the state flower (Cypripedium reginae) or any species of lady slipper (Cypripedium) or any member of the orchid family ..."

The designation as official state symbol was written into law in 1967; chief authors were Rep. Jack Morris and Sen. John Tracy Anderson. It was signed by Governor Harold Levander.

The Minnesota state flower is protected by Minnesota Statutes 18H.18. Information on transplanting lady slippers is available from the Minnesota Department of Natural resources. It is one of Minnesota's rarest wildflowers. Thriving in swamps, bogs, and damp woods, they grow slowly, taking 4 to 16 years to produce their first flower. Sometimes they live for 50 years and grow four feet tall. They bloom in late June or early July. It is illegal to pick the lady slipper.

In 1990, Governor Rudy Perpich declared 81 miles of Highway 11 a Minnesota Wildflower Route, in honor of the hundreds of thousands of Showy Lady's-Slippers growing within sight of the road. The town of Williams held a celebration of the event, which became an annual Wildflower Day. The state put up signs depicting the Showy Lady's-Slipper to mark the route, and pledged to expand the highway only to the south, protecting the masses of Showies Lady's-Slippers on the north side of the road.

Minnesota State Flower: Pink & White Lady's Slipper

Minnesota Flower - Pink and White Lady's Slipper

The Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae,) also known as the Pink-and-white Lady's-slipper or the Queen's Lady's-slipper, is a rare terrestrial temperate lady's-slipper orchid native to northern North America.

Cypripedium reginae grows in calcareous wet lands, open wooded swamps, with tamarack and black spruce. Contrary to many garden tips, C. reginae thrives in neutral to basic soils and prefers growing in fens. Despite growing in mildly acidic environments, its roots can penetrate the mossy layers down to more neutral water sources. It forms clumps by branching of the underground rhizomes. It forms aerial roots in the swampy bog conditions. It is eaten by white-tailed deer

Characteristics of the Pink and White Lady's Slipper

  • Common Names: Lady's-slipper and queen lady's-slipper
  • Plant: Fairly large plant, grows to 18" tall, has large leaves, arising from a rhizome with a fascicle of numerous fibrous roots several to many stems may arise from the same rootstock.
  • Leaves: Leaves are a light green color and 3-5, ovate, plicate, 10-25 cm long and 4-16 cm wide; densely pubescent.
  • Flowers: 1-2(3), each subtended by a lanceolate green foliaceous bract 6-14 cm long by 3-7 cm wide.
  • Sepals: Apparently two (the result of the fusion of the two lateral sepals behind the labellum), white; dorsal sepal ovate to obovate, 3-5 cm long and 2-3.5 cm wide; lateral sepals united, white, ovate, 3-5 cm long and 1.5-3.5 cm wide.
  • Petals: Blooms are white with a reddish-purple pouch. 2.5-4 cm long and 1-1.5 cm wide.
  • Labellum: Pouch-shaped, inflated, spherical (or nearly so), 2.5-5.5 cm long, opening above with inrolled edges; white suffused with deep rose to magenta, the veins often being white; rarely the whole being white or rose.
  • Hardiness. Zones 3 to 8 This is a genuinely "queenly" plant, as the species name "reginae" suggests. It is among the more easily grown of our native lady's slippers, provided you understand its needs.

The Minnesota Statutes

The law designating the Pink-and-white lady slipper as the official Minnesota state flower is found in the Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 1, Section 1.142

MINNESOTA State Flower: Pink-and-white lady slipper (Cypripedium reginae); adopted 1893.
Also known as showy lady slipper.

Statutory citation: Minn. Stat. 1.142

1893 resolution 4 February 1893 (appears in Senate Journal, but not among joint resolutions in 1893 Laws). Resolution mistakenly designated the wild lady slipper or moccasin flower, Cypripedium calceolus, which does not actually grow in Minnesota.
1902 resolution 19 February 1902 (appears in Senate Journal, p. 68, but not among joint resolutions in 1902 Laws).
Corrected part of the previous misnomer, replacing Cypripedium calceolus with Cypripedium reginae, but neglecting to remove the term moccasin flower, which designates a different, though related, flower.
1967 Minn. Laws Chap. 291 Sec. 1 (HF1684)
Protected pursuant to 1925 Minn. Laws Chap. 409 (amended 1935 Minn. Laws Chap. 100).
Sources of additional information:

"State flower called fake," Minneapolis Tribune, 2 Feb. 1902, p. 6.
"Minnesota's State Flower: Queen of Lady Slippers," Minnesota Heritage Series, No. 2.

1.142 State flower.
Subdivision 1. Lady slipper. The pink and white lady slipper, Cypripedium reginae, is the official flower of the state of Minnesota.
Subd. 2. Photograph. A photograph of the pink and white lady slipper, obtained and approved by the commissioner of natural resources, shall be preserved in the office of the secretary of state.
HIST: 1967 c 291 s 1; 1969 c 1129 art 3 s 1; 1984 c 628 art 1 s 1
Copyright 2002 by the Office of Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Pink-and-white Lady Slipper

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Liliidae
Order: Orchidales
Family: Orchidaceae - Orchid family
Genus: Cypripedium L. - lady's slipper
Species: Cypripedium reginae Walter - showy lady's slipper

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