Mu friends, Jimmy and Shari, provided information about these flowers:
This is a slipper orchid, related to the lady slipper Cypripedium kentuckiense. They are rare
Also called Moccasin Flower.
Native American folklore tells the story of a young maiden who ran barefoot in the snow in search of medicine to save her tribe. She was found collapsed on the way back from her mission with swollen, frozen feet. The story goes that beautiful lady slipper flowers then grew where her feet had been as a reminder of her bravery. In addition to inspiring folklore, lady slipper roots were also widely used by Native Americans as medicinal herbs.
We are glad you take photos because a picked lady slipper will not rejuvenate itself. The plant has a less than 5% transplant success rate, they are often considered “off-limits” to pickers and diggers. Some species of lady slipper are listed as endangered or threatened. Others, like the common Pink Lady’s Slipper, are listed as “special concern” under the Native Plant Protection Act. Although regulations on picking or transplanting lady slipper plants vary from state to state, either practice is generally discouraged and it is illegal to pick or dig up lady slipper plants on Federal properties.
These beautiful orchids don’t transplant successfully and have declined dramatically in our area due to grazing and logging. They require specific soil fungi in order to grow from seed, so even seed collection is rarely successful unless in soil with the correct fungi and just the right amount of sunlight. Enjoy them in the woods!