David Barthel - North Shore Images PhotographyDavid Barthel North Shore Images Photography
David Barthel

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Showy Lady's Slippers

The Showy Lady's Slipper orchid is well-recognized by Minnesotan's as their state flower. Yet, many state residents have never seen one in person. I was one of those poor souls until about a month ago when I ventured up to Jay Cooke State Park in search of what seemed to be an elusive flower.

I knew Jay Cooke was home to patches of Lady's Slippers and was told at one time approximately where to find them, but I was not completely sure of their locations. Without the assistance of the park staff (this was during Minnesota's state government shutdown), I painstakingly combed the park trails near the visitor center in search of the unique pink and white blossoms. After about an hour and many second thoughts about the flowers being past bloom, I finally stood next to a patch of about a dozen of these magnificent orchid blossoms just off the trail. I was thrilled at the chance to see my state flower for the first time.

My enjoyment of photographing these fine orchid specimens was limited only by an endless barrage of what some folks call Minnesota's unofficial state "bird," the mosquito. The resident mosquitoes were probably as happy to see me as I was in seeing the lady's slippers!

Another photographer later clued me in to the fact that Minnesota's state flower is not so elusive in certain parts of the state. During the month of June, thousands can be found along both the Lady's Slipper Scenic Byway (Beltrami County Road 39 south of Blackduck, MN) and the Wildflower Route (Minnesota Highway 11 between Greenbush and Baudette, MN).

Whether seen by the dozen or the thousands, it is important to note that the Showy Lady's Slipper is a protected species in Minnesota, and therefore, it is unlawful to pick them or uproot them for transplantation.

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