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Fairy Slipper

Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis


This tiny little orchid, only 10-12 cm tall, is such a sight to see. You have to lay on the ground in order to peer into the flower. The underneath of the orchid looks like a little pink and white speckled slipper. Perfect for a fairy. It even has a vanilla scent. This orchid, along with many others in the Pacific Northwest, grows in partnership with a fungus in the soil that shares nutrients taken from the roots of trees. So in a way, the orchid is using the needles of evergreen trees in the forest to provide the nourishment it needs through a fungus. For this reason, they won't grow if dug up and taken home.


Found in a Doug Fir forest where the soil is rich. Though not endangered, they require special conditions of shade, moisture and soil that cannot be duplicated outside of old-growth forest.


The Haida Native Americans would eat the rich butter-flavored bulb. However, this is not currently recommended because they are relatively rare in many areas.

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Spotted by

Washington, USA

Spotted on May 7, 2012
Submitted on May 7, 2012

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