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Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin)

Life history

Species overview

Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in fens, calcareous swales, and rich springy forest edges. Blooming occurs late May through late June; fruiting occurs late June through late July. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early July.

Synonyms: Cypripedium calceolus, Cypripedium pubescens


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from C. parviflorum var. pubescens by its smaller pouch (2 to 3 cm vs. 3 to 5 cm) smaller overall stature, and habitat preference (moist calcareous swamps and fens vs. deciduous forests).
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers 1 to 2, pouch yellow, 2 to 3 cm long and usually veined with purple; sepals and lateral petals greenish-yellow to purplish-brown, narrow, and 3 to 5 cm long; lower sepals united, narrower and bidentate at the tip.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule with tiny seeds.
  • Leaf characteristics: Oval to lance-egg-shaped leaves, 6 to 20 cm long.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Thuja occidentalis, Pinus strobus, Cypripedium reginae, Abies balsamea, Carex disperma, C. trisperma, Cornus stolonifera, Alnus rugosa, Gentiana andrewsii.

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 Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin). 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 parviflorum var. makasin in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3S4
Global RankG5T4T5
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 fens, calcareous swales, and rich springy forest edges.
  • Soils: Moist or wet, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Northern Yellow 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).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Northern Yellow 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 broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
  • 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.

Management guidance

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

  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.
  • Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.


Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper Photo.

A unique double flowered version of northern yellow lady's-slipper.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

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