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White Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum)

Life history

Species overview

White Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found in calcareous fens and moist prairies. Blooming occurs late May through early June; fruiting occurs throughout September. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early June.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Flower a small (1.5 to 2.5 cm long) white pouch. Occassionally hybridizes with C. parviflorum, with hybrids having pale cream-yellows when fresh.
  • Flower characteristics: The 1.5-2.5 cm long white pouch is often lightly veined with violet. Sepals are lanceolate, reddish-green, slightly twisted, and 2-4 cm long.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule with tiny seeds.
  • Leaf characteristics: Leaf blades are lance-shaped to narrowly elliptic, often overlapping at the base. They are 8-15 cm long and erect.


  • Blooming phenology: late May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early June


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Dodecatheon meadia, Lithospermum canescens, Sporobolus heterolepis, Cirsium muticum, Lobelia kalmii, Parnassia glauca, Potentilla fruticosa, Eupatorium maculatum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for White Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Cypripedium candidum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in calcareous fens and moist prairies.
  • Soils: Moist or wet, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with White Lady's-slipper. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Calcareous Fen 3
Wet-mesic Prairie 3
Wet Prairie 3
Mesic Prairie 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for White Lady's-slipper. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.


White Lady's-slipper Photo.

Photo © Tom Smith.

White Lady's-slipper Photo.

Photo by  staff, Wisconsin DNR.

White Lady's-slipper Photo.

Cypripedium candidum.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

White Lady's-slipper Photo.

Small white lady's-slipper is a rare orchid of Calcareous Fens and other alkaline grasslands in southern Wisconsin.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner, Wisconsin DNR.

White Lady's-slipper Photo.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition