Cypripedium montanum - Clump E growth photos

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Well-Known Member
Apr 10, 2013
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Washington state
>>>This is an update with new images, posted May 24, 2013.
A new search and careful count has revealed 182 lively plants in 36 clumps.
A recent conversation with a wildlife biologist has changed my beliefs: she said that the cyps are thriving on my property not despite my thinning efforts of the forest, but because of these efforts. The canopy closure when I bought the property in 1988 was nearly 100%; it is now down to 50-60% where I have thinned.
<<< end update; new images are at end of post

As I have posted elsewhere on Slippertalk (, we have a number of C. montanum plants growing wild on our property. I have begun an effort to photograph selected clumps (there a total of 22 clumps numbered A to V, comprising just over 100 plants) during their growth this year. Clumps E, G and T will have photos taken every week or so, and the photos posted here. The photos began April 18, 2013; I took a 2nd series today, April 26. The largest plant saw 3" of growth in that 8 days, despite nighttime temperatures getting down into the 20's and low 30's nearly every night.

Each clump will have its own post. This post, for Clump E, will have the intro material.

Here is a result of a soil test we had made by a university extension service:
ph: 7.6 (alkaline)
nitrogen: 1.25 ppm (very low)
phosphorus: 37.5 ppm (medium)
potassium: 90 ppm (medium high)
humus (in range of 1 - 5): 1
26.6% sand, 46.6% silt, 26.6% clay

The habitat is mixed conifer with 50-60% canopy closure. Elevation is 2500 feet.

Climate info: For December, our coldest month, average low is 24, average high is 38. July & August are tied for the same average high: 83, while the average low is 54 and 53, respectively. Average rainfall is 11.42 inches. Record low is -16, record high is 106. This climate info is for a nearby town; we're 1,000 feet higher, with a slightly longer and deeper winter, slightly shorter and cooler summer, and maybe another inch of rainfall.

Info on the E Clump:
Date Clump, # plants visible, Height of tallest, Height of shortest
4/18/13 E, 11, 3", 1/2"
4/26/13 E, 11, 6", 2"
4/30/13 E, 12, 8", 2" <<<update
5/5/13 E, 12, 10", 2" <<<update
5/11/13 E, 12, 13 1/2", 2" <<<update
5/17/13 E, 16", 10 plants in bloom <<<update

Here is a link to the photos for Clump g:

And for Clump T:

On to the photos for Clump E:

April 18, wide view:

April 18, shoots:

April 26, shoots:

May 11, flowers:


May 17, flowers:



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I've been taking photos of the plants, anticipating posting them here. Heather told me I'd have to wait until after the auction before I could post the photos on my original posts for the three clumps. Some newly-forming flowers are now visible on some plants. Also, I did my first real inventory and search for new plants, and the results are astounding. There are 34 clumps comprising 178 plants. I have photographed all the clumps, and will use this year's data as a baseline to see if this population is growing or shrinking.

I'm gone for several days at a time right now, so I may miss any messages for a while.
Heather told me I'd have to wait until after the auction before I could post the photos on my original posts for the three clumps.

That's strange! It should not make a difference if you add photos. :eek: Oh well, as an adult I guess you know enough to listen to what the women folk say!! :p
Looks so great thanks for sharing, do you have lighter forms or really dark one there. Would love to get pollen from one of yours
Looks so great thanks for sharing, do you have lighter forms or really dark one there. Would love to get pollen from one of yours

The flowers are universally white and identical. I'd be happy to send you pollen, although I don't know how to go about it; let me know. Most plants are in bloom right now; I can see swelling behind some flowers as the seed pods are growing.

I would be willing to give away one of the smaller clumps, but only to someone who collected it him/herself from our property in south central Washington state and would keep the location private. I would think that a good bunch of dirt and duff should be collected also.

Last summer I gave a clump to a neighbor but it didn't show any life this spring.

Also last summer I transplanted a clump to our rock garden; the plant looks vigorous this spring (clump B in the photos) and both plants flowered. This summer I'm going to transplant another to the rock garden and try transplanting to a pot.

This is the first year that I've begun carefully documenting the plants; next spring I'll know for sure if this population is growing (which I believe it is) or shrinking.
That's strange! It should not make a difference if you add photos. :eek: Oh well, as an adult I guess you know enough to listen to what the women folk say!! :p

Heather said it had to do with people changing their bids for the auction. My wife, Joy, would agree with the latter half of your comment ;)
Hi Charles,

Thanks for the "bump". Here is the progress:

Cypripedium Montanum report, final count May 20, 2014
Compared with final count of 2013 which occurred on May 17, 2013

Overall, the population increased from 2013 as follows:
2013 shoots: 196; 2014: 227; increase of 31
2013 clumps: 41; 2014: 44; increase of 3
tallest plant: 19.5 inches (increase of 1.5 inches)
flower counts per shoot for 2014 (not kept in 2013): zero flowers: 39; single
flowers: 80; double flowers: 101; triple flowers: 7

Last summer's clear-cut logging by our western neighbor has had expected impacts on the cyps that are growing right next to the boundary fence. Dramatically increased sunlight and wind cause withered sepals, stressed-looking leaves, and anthers without pollen. Several small clumps in this area have no shoots this year. I have now transplanted two clumps from this area to a place nearer the house, one in 2012. Both clumps are doing well and bloomed this year. With this success I'll begin a more extensive program of transplanting clumps from this high-stress environment near the clear-cut.

In other areas of the property the plants are doing quite well.

Last summer I sent seed to three places: Troy Meyers ( reports this spring that my seed may be germinating. Bill Steele ( reports no luck germinating the seed; and seed sent to Germany is still an unknown, although the grower was impressed with the seed last summer.

I began a more extensive hand-pollinating program this year, tagging each shoot I pollinated with the date. More seed will go this summer to Troy Meyers, this time with a known pollination date, which may help.

I have written custom software to help manage the montanum population. The software simply makes it easy to summarize and present the data, which is all inputted from handwritten notes made at the plants. I keep track of each clump in detail at several stages during its growth. This history is becoming valuable.

Ben Legler, of the Burke Museum's herbarium (Univ of Washington at Seattle),
visited our property on May 16 and collected and photo'd voucher specimens for the museum. You can see many of my montanum photos on the website. Ben is the one that identified an unusual plant on our property: cypripedium fasciculatum, Clustered Lady's Slipper (two photos follow).


The fasciculatum was discovered in the summer of 2013 but despite subsequent searching could not be located again. They were re-discovered this spring and I just finished a new trail directly to the plants. They were found growing about 200 yards south of our house on a south-facing slope at the margin of a thinned and non-thinned forest. About 14 plants, 8 in flower, in a slightly dispersed (2 feet) clump.

My wife and I have decided to sell our home and move to a warmer winter climate (got down to -1 F). It's my fervent hope that we sell to a person or persons who will treasure and pamper all the wonderful plants here.

That's the progress and the news, Charles. Thanks for inquiring.

Well, Dido, you're welcome to see ours anytime!

In the fasciculatum's location info, I should have written "north-facing" instead of south-facing. All the south-facing property nearby is on the south side of the 500-foot tall butte whose northwest flank is part of our property. Over there it's much drier and sunnier, with oak and Ponderosa pine predominating. Never saw any orchids there.
Thanks for your kind thoughts. I have lived here 26 years and have grown deep roots; uprooting and moving may not happen this year as we've put a premium price on our home (my wife, Joy, refuses to settle for less).

And, wouldn't you know it, just like last year, I thought I had made my last count (May 20) when today I find a new clump of 9 plants and my wife found a new clump of 5 plants (all montanum). The 9-plant clump has obviously been around for years as it has 3-flower shoots and 20" height (the tallest here), while the 5-plant clump is much younger. How we missed these plants, as they're right beside a favorite walking trail, is beyond us.

So, the overall increase from last year is now 45 shoots, bringing the total to 241. As there is a small piece of unexplored property to the southeast, and I'm now eager to search for more c.fasciculatum, there may be more plants waiting to be found.

As a side note, we have many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of another orchid, piperia elegans. They are literally everywhere. Their central stalks are just now putting on growth.

Also, there is no sign yet this year of new shoots from the Phantom Orchids. They were first seen in June of last year (2013), so they may show up yet.