Western Lady Slipper

These delicate pink and white western lady slipper flowers (Calypso Bulbosa) are common orchids found along the carpeted floor of the BC coastal region forests. They have a single flower that has several pink, twisted, sepals, and petals forming a crown. The flower has a small, pink upper lip above a large lower lip. Looking into the flower, the lower lip is the largest part of the flower. It has deep purple stripes near its base, with some purple spots towards the tip. The purple spots are set off against a pink backdrop. The spots and the pink coloration fade to white as the lip nears its outer margin. There is a single, basal, egg-shaped, or elliptical leaf that slowly tapers to a point. Western Lady Slipper, Photo By Bud

Western Lady Slipper, Vancouver Island, BC
Western Lady Slipper, Calypso Bulbosa, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

Western Lady Slipper orchids are circumpolar in range and found across most of Canada from British Columbia and Alberta, east to Newfoundland, and south to California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Despite their pretty appearance, they do not contain any nectar to reward inquisitive and hungry bees. Their bright color attracts the bees anyway. The bees visit, and while not rewarded, will visit several flowers before learning to avoid them. By this time, they have cross-pollinated a few of the orchids.

Western Lady Slipper, Vancouver Island, BC
Western Lady Slipper, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

Luckily for the fairy slipper, there are always enough novice bees that have not yet learned that the flower does not offer any nectar reward.

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