New Hampshire State Wildflower

Pink Lady Slipper

Pink Lady Slipper

(Cypripedium acaule)

Adopted in 1991

The pink lady's slipper, (Cypripedium acaule,) was adopted as New Hampshire official state wildflower in 1991.

New Hampshire's pink lady's slipper is also sometimes called the moccasin flower, the lady's slipper orchid, and pink lady's-slipper. The plant is native to New Hampshire and grows in the moist wooded areas of the state.

Pink lady's slipper is a large, showy wildflower belonging to the orchid family. The root of lady's slipper has traditionally been used as a remedy for nervousness, tooth pain, and muscle spasms. In the 1800's and 1900's it (and other species of the genus) were widely used as a substitute for the European plant valerian (also a sedative).

New Hampshire State Wildflower: Pink Lady Slipper 

Pink Lady Slipper

Because this plant has an extremely long life cycle, taking many years to go from seed to mature, seed-bearing plant, and because it will grow only in very specific circumstances, the harvest of wild lady's slipper root is often not sustainable. Cultivation is challenging, and the plant has not been widely grown for the medicinal herb market. Cypripedium, along with other orchid species, is listed in Appendix II of CITES, making it illegal to export any part of the plant without a permit. In 1988, the American Herbal Products Association issued a self-regulatory initiative for its members requiring them to refrain from trade in wild-harvested Cypripedium.

Today, there are only a few companies selling lady's slipper or products containing lady's slipper. The plant is still occasionally gathered from the wild for private use by individuals, and is sometimes picked as an ornamental. Perhaps the greatest threat to this plant, however, is habitat loss, since it grows only in a very selective habitat.

Characteristics of the Pink Lady's Slipper

Common name: Pink Lady's Slipper

Scientific name: Cypripedium acaule

    Flower: 2?" (6.5 cm) long
    Plant height: 6-15" (15-38 cm)

Blooming period: April-June

Habitat: Dry to moist forests near oaks or pines, or on humus mats on rocks

Description: 1-2 flowers with a distinctive pink, inflated pouch-like lip petal with distinctive red veins and center cleft. Also found as pale pink to white. Flower has 3 sepals and 2 spreading upper petals, greenish-brown. Stalk is leafless. 1 pair basal leaves up to 8" (20 cm) long, ribbed, dark green and shiny on top, hairy underneath. Orchid family. (June 1)

The New Hampshire Revised Statutes

The law designating the pink lady's slipper as the official New Hampshire state wildflower is found in the New Hampshire Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 3, Section 3:17.

Title I: The State and Its Government.
Chapter 3: State Emblems, Flag, Etc.

3:17 State Wildflower. - The pink lady's slipper, Cypripedium acaule, is hereby designated as the official state wildflower of New Hampshire.

Source. 1991, 106:2, eff. July 12, 1991.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Pink Lady's 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 acaule Aiton - moccasin flower

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