Wild Pink Flowers — Azaleas and Lady Slippers in the Mountains

Before the rain got too heavy this afternoon we ducked into our Pennsylvania woods to see how the Pink Lady’s Slippers were coming along.

Right on cue — sometime between the First of May and Mother’s Day — the Pink Lady’s Slippers come out in full bloom. Each year we go to the same spots to see these beautiful and interesting members of the orchid family.

Because of the shape of the irregular flower Cypripedium acaule is also known as the Moccasin Flower. Indeed, the heavily veined, pink pouch identifies the Pink Lady’s Slipper.

Pink Lady's Slipper growing in a mixed hardwoods forest in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

Pink Lady’s Slipper growing in a mixed hardwoods forest in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

This plant is distinctively hairy, which is not noticeable until you get real close. All parts of the basal leaves, flower stem, sepals and the blossom have short, soft hairs.

Fuzzy Pink Lady's Slipper showing short hairs and the deeply cleft, hollow pouch.

Fuzzy Pink Lady’s Slipper showing short hairs and the deeply cleft, hollow pouch.

The atypical views of this pink orchid illustrate the three dimensional shape of the irregular flower.

Side view shows the heavily veined pouch of the Moccasin Flower.

Side view shows the heavily veined pouch of the Moccasin Flower.

The greenish-brown sepals and lateral petals are not very noticeable from a distance as they blend in with the background colors.

The greenish-brown sepals and lateral petals are not very noticeable from a distance as they blend in with the background colors.

In a couple weeks the pink flower will fall away leaving behind the green, spade-shaped bract at the top of the long flower stem.

In a couple weeks the pink flower will fall away leaving behind the green, spade-shaped bract at the top of the long flower stem.

If you have an occasion to hike the woods of Eastern Canada or the Northern United States or the Appalachian Mountains down to north Georgia, keep your eyes open for the Pink Lady’s Slipper. It’s not every day that you get to see this beautiful orchid!

More wild pink flowers that we saw today were a group of pretty Pink Azaleas, Rhododendron nudiflorum, also known as the Pinxter Flower. We were surprised to see so many blossoms as this was the most extensive blooming witnessed to date.

Wild Pink Azaleas blooming underneath an oak tree.

Wild Pink Azaleas blooming underneath an oak tree.

Five petals are joined at the base making a long tube which has more color than the distal ends of the petals. The orange-tipped stamens are very long and project well beyond the petals. The green-tipped pistil is longer yet.

Close up image of pink azalea flower showing the long stamens and pistil.

Close up image of pink azalea flower showing the long stamens and pistil.

Pink azaleas are practically odorless, but apparently the leaves taste good to some little green caterpillars. Most of the elongated leaves were already consumed, except for the midrib.

Notice the leaf midribs left behind by ravenous caterpillars in the lower right of this image of Pink Azaleas.
Notice the leaf midribs left behind by ravenous caterpillars in the lower right of this image of Pink Azaleas.

9 thoughts on “Wild Pink Flowers — Azaleas and Lady Slippers in the Mountains

  1. On a recent walk with our dogs my husband and Ispotted this absolutly beautiful flower. I took a few photos and plan on hanging one on our wall in our “Things found in my back yard collection” . We had no idea what it was until now.

    Love it and Thank You….

  2. Ann, I suppose you’re talking about the pink lady slippers. They are pretty, aren’t they? I’m curious where you’re located….

    Every year I look forward to seeing them on our mountain ridge in early May. This year we saw only 4 blossoms on 14 plants, so make sure to look for the broad basal leaves when you take another walk. I’ve spotted many of these orchids by looking for the leaves and not the flowers. Somehow, the pink flowers blend into the dappled sunlight on the forest floor.

    Enjoy! Stop by again!

  3. I found some flowers growing in my backyard everywhere I have searched google for it and can not find what it is anywhere description: single lime green stocked flower 5 flowers on top all pink with really long stamen I need to know what it is as I have pets and a small child who likes to eat flowers for some strange reason any clue what it is?

  4. Hi Angela,
    The only to really see what you mean is to look at a photograph. Any chance you can send me a couple pictures of your mystery flower? Send to wilde AT wildeherb.com and I’ll see if I can help you.
    Looking forward to seeing the pink and green posie.

  5. Hello folks
    I have been searching out places to see the Lady Slippers. I live outside Lancaster PA. Can anyone tell me where to look for them? I don’t mind traveling. I just want to enjoy seeing the beauty of nature. It is the most uplifting thing.
    Thank you
    Darlene

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