A grandson once reminded me that yellow was his favorite color. He may have changed his mind, but yellow continues to look good to me. Especially when it is the flower of the Lesser Yellow Lady Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb.) This delicate beauty has a larger look-alike, the Greater Yellow Lady Slipper. The main difference between the two is the size of the flower: Large or small. The Lesser Yellow Lady Slipper flower varies from ¾ to 1 ¼ inches. Greater Lady Slipper flowers are up to 2 inches in size.
Perhaps exquisite comes close to describing this flower’s intense beauty. Emerald green leaves with long symmetrical parallel veins and spiraled lateral petals that resemble purple/brown corkscrews are real life eye candy. The flower itself is true orchid gorgeous. A waxy yellow pouch with purple spotted trim around the margins is unlike any other in the forest. Usually a single flower arises from the plant which rises from the forest floor to a height equal that of one dollar bill. It grows best in wet, partially shaded areas. More fertile woodland soil and advantageous growing conditions may cause the plant to grow to slightly more than 2 bills end to end. Yet-size does not matter here; magnificent splendor in a perennial forest plant does.
Unless you live in Arkansas, Nevada, or Florida this native plant blooms in your state. Depending on your latitude, it may be found in flower from April to June.
Walking a forest trail and discovering it’s one of a kind blossom brings a pause for a closer look. A closer look has me asking this question. Why all the detail? Spiral purple petals, a waxy flower trimming in royal purple, seeming ordinary green leaves at first glance. Why all the detail? Besides, we have focused only on the Lady Slipper’s appearance. The roots we cannot see, and their relationship with a soil fungus are equally astonishing.
The infinite God is a boundless detail Creator. The Lesser Yellow Lady Slipper is engraved with the signature of God. It grows in woods and forests, a silent beauty that gives witness to an eternal God. Within days the blossoms will dry and shrivel leaving only the parallel-veined rich green leaves. Its spring beauty will be gone, but not the Lady Slipper’s Creator. He remains-forever. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8