It contains 57 species, Cypripedium calceolus being the type species.
Most species are found in temperate to cold regions of the northern hemisphere, some species even grow in the tundra in Alaska and Siberia, which is unusual for orchids that usually occur in warmer climates.
Cypripedium is also known as Lady’s Slipper because of the shape of the lower lip which forms a bag that looks somewhat like a shoe.
The abbreviation used in the trade is Cyp.
Cypripedium orchids are terrestrial, with a short, sturdy rhizome. This rhizome grows every year from a growth bud while the older part of the rhizome dies.
Most species have an erect stem on which the leaves grow. The stems have no pseudobulb.
The often hairy leaves vary in shape from ovate to elliptic or lanceolate, folded along their length.
The inflorescence is a raceme, with 1-12 flowers. Most species have only 1-3 flowers. There are three sepals from which, in most species, the two lateral ones are more or less fused. The flower has three acute petals, the third and central one has a striking slipper-shaped lip. The sepals and petals are usually the same color and the lip a different color. This form and colors serve to attract insects for pollination. The flowers have a column with a shield-shaped stamen. The ovary is 3-locular.
Cypripedium: from cypris (Venus) and pedilon (shoe).
The genus includes 57 species, including: