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Chapter 26. Lady's-Slipper.

(1) Cypripedium hirsutum Mill. and (2) Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb.

[image:12837 align=left hspace=1](Note. The Cypripediums are rare and endangered orchids. Don't use them unless you grow them yourself. -Henriette)

SYNONYM—(1) Cypripedium Pubescens Willd.

DRUG NAME—Cypripedium.

OTHER COMMON NAMES—(1) Large yellow lady's-slipper, yellow lady's-slipper, yellow moccasin-flower, Venus'shoe, Venus'-cup, yellow Indian-shoe, American valerian, nerve-root, mate nervine, yellow Noah's-ark, yellows, monkeyflower, umbil-root, yellow umbil; (2) small yellow lady's slipper.

HABITAT AND RANGE—Both of these native species frequent bogs and wet places in deep shady woods and thickets, The large yellow lady's-slipper may be found from Nova Scotia south to Alabama and west to Nebraska and Missouri. The range for the small yellow lady's-slipper extends from Newfoundland south along the mountains to Georgia and west to Missouri, Washington and British Columbia.

DESCRIPTION OF PLANTS—The orchid family (Orchidaceae), to which the lady's-slipper belong, boasts of many beautiful, showy and curious species and the lady's-slipper is no exception. There are several other plants to which the name lady's-slipper has been applied, but one glance at the peculiar structure of the flowers in the species under consideration, as shown in the illustration will enable any one to recognize them as soon as seen.

The particular species of lady's-slipper under consideration in this article do not differ very materially from each other. Both are perennials, growing from 1 to about 2 feet in height, with rather large leaves and with yellow flowers more or less marked with purple, the main difference being that in hirsutum the flower is larger and pale yellow, while in parviflorum the flower is small, bright yellow, and perhaps more prominently striped and spotted with purple. The stem, leaves and inside of corolla or lip are somewhat hairy in the large yellow lady's-slipper, but not in the small yellow lady's-slipper. These hairs are said to be irritating to some people in whom they cause an eruption of the skin.

The leaves of the Lady's-Slipper vary in size from 2 to 6 inches in length and from 1 to 3 inches in width, and are broadly oval or elliptic, sharp pointed, with numerous parallel veins, and sheathing at the base, somewhat hairy in the large Lady's-Slipper. The solitary terminal flower, which appears from May to June, is very showy and curiously formed, the lip being the most prominent part. This lip looks like a large inflated bay (1 to 2 inches long in the large Lady's Slipper), pale yellow or bright yellow in color, variously striped and blotched with purple. The other parts of the Rower are greenish or yellowish, with purple stripes, and the petals are usually twisted.

DESCRIPTION OF ROOTSTOCK—The Rootstock is of horizontal growth, crooked, fleshy and with numerous wavy, fibrous roots. As found in commerce, the rootstocks are from 1 to 4 inches in length, about an eighth of an inch in thickness, dark brown, the upper surface showing numerous round cup-shaped scars, the remains of former annual stems, and the lower surface thickly covered with wavy, wiry, and brittle roots, the latter breaking off with a short, white fracture. The odor is rather heavy and disagreeable and the taste is described as sweetish, bitter and somewhat pungent.

COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—Both rootstock and roots are used and these should be collected in autumn, freed from dirt and carefully dried in the shade. These beautiful plants are becoming rare in many localities. Sometimes such high-priced drugs as golden seal and senega are found mixed with the, lady's-slipper, but as these are more expensive than the lady's-slipper it is not likely that they are included with fraudulent intent and they can be readily distinguished. The prices paid to collectors of this root range from 32 to 35 cents a pound.

The principal use of Lady's-Slipper, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, is as an antispasmodic and nerve tonic, and it has been used for the same purposes as valerian.


Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.



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