Cypripedium calceolus

Source: Björn S...

Cypripedium calceolus

Cypripedium calceolus or Lady’s Slipper is the only European orchid of the sub-family Cypripedioideae and the largest orchid occurring in Europe.

It grows in the uplands, mainly in the alpine region. It is a protected species, they should not be picked.

Cypripedium calceolus is part of the family Orchidaceae, subfamily Cypripedioideae, genus Cypripedium.


The Lady’s Slipper grows in small groups of 2 to 6 straight stems with a common root system. The upright stem is 15 to 60 cm high and is characterized by sheaths at the base. The stem usually carries three to five alternating leaves of broad-oval shape with clearly marked parallel veins.

The light green leaves that surround the stem are pubescent and slightly bent.

The flower has a pouch or shoe shaped lip that obliges insects to get past the rudimentary stamen when they creep up, thus the pollen is carried and deposited on the pistil.

Each flower has three lanceolated sepals of 5 cm long, ranging in color from reddish brown to chocolate brown. The two lateral sepals are fused and point down, below the labellum. The third sepal is erect.

There are three petals, one of which is yellow and in the form of a pouch of 4 cm. The other two petals are lateral and have the same shape and color as the sepals.

The fruit is a dehiscent capsule, sometimes it stays on the dried stem until the next summer.


Europe and Asia


Low-and middle Mountains, chalky and not very fertile soil, in open coniferous and deciduous forests, shaded slopes and grasslands.

Common names:

Lady’s slipper, Lady’s slipper orchid, Pantoffala, Sabot de la virge, Woodpecker nuksack, Yellow lady’s slipper, Yellow lady’s slipper orchid


Cypripedium: from the Greek word Kupris (the goddess Venus) and the Latin pes, pedis (foot).
Calceolus: from the Latin calceolus (shoe or slipper).


Lady’s slipper is best grown in a rock garden where it is quite dry the whole year round.


Temperate climate, frost-resistant down to -25 °C


Shadowy place where they receive direct sunlight only during the coolest times of the day.


Give water sparingly: 1 time per week, 2-3 glasses. Let the soil dry out well between two waterings.

Use rainwater, no water that comes out of the water softener.


The substrate must be rich in calcium and preferably slightly moist in the spring-autumn period.


Use a special orchid fertilizer 20-20-20. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks, from March to October. No fertilizer the rest of the year.


The flowering takes place from May to July.


By seed, in vitro culture and division.
Note: when sowing, it takes 6-7 years before the plant begins to bloom.