This is the blooming season for the two species of lady’s slipper orchids that are native to the North Carolina piedmont. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go out searching for them this year, but I have been lucky enough to see and photograph both species in past years.
Cypripedium acuale (pink lady’s slipper, moccasin flower)
C. acaule is definitely the most common of the two species in the piedmont. The plants are tolerant of varied moisture levels, and their main requirement is for very acidic soil. They often grow in fairly dry pine woods, but I have also seen plants in mixed deciduous forest.
Blooming-size plants usually produce a pair of pleated leaves that sit flat on the ground and are easy to recognize even when the plant isn’t flowering:
A good place to see C. acaule in the Triangle area is William B. Umstead State Park. I’ve seen plants blooming along the trail near the Reedy Creek Entrance.
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (greater yellow lady’s slipper)
C. parviflorum var. pubescens is quite rare in the piedmont, and I have only seen plants at one location. They were growing among Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) on a fairly steep hillside in deciduous forest dominated by beeches, oaks, and tulip poplars.
Because C. parviflorum var. pubescens is rare and is one of the native plants most likely to be poached by unscrupulous plant collectors, I don’t feel comfortable publishing the location of this population on the internet. Thanks for understanding. If I know you in real life, you can ask me in person.