The Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) or Moccasin Flower is a large, showy wildflower belonging the the orchid family. The heavily veined, deeply cleft pouch of this wild orchid is a distinctive characteristic of this species. Because this plant has an extremely long life cycle, taking many years to go from seed to a mature seed-bearing plant, and because it will grow only in very specific circumstances, the harvest of wild lady’s slipper is often not sustainable and in some states such as Michigan it is not only illegal to pick but also to move.
Pink Lady’s Slipper grows in a variety of different habitats, including moist and dry soils. It is usually found in pine forests, where it can be seen in large colonies, but it grows in deciduous woods, as well. It is nearly always found in soil with high acid content. Because of a fungus association needed for growth, and the high acid this plant needs, C. acaule is very difficult to grow in the average garden and is unlikely to survive any attempts at transplantation.
Check out this slideshow of Wild Michigan Orchids on Flickr.