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Yellow lady slippers and other yellow things May 20, 2013

Posted by Jenny in nature, photography, plants, Southern Appalachians.
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The closer you look, the more mysterious.

The closer you look, the more mysterious.

Click twice for full zoom on any photo.

Lady slippers—lovely, bizarre, delicate, bold, faintly tropical, somehow sexual. A plant of contradictions.

I’ve seen pink lady slippers every spring, whether up in New England or in the southern Appalachians. I hadn’t seen the yellow ones for years. I never made a special pilgrimage to find them in places they’re known to live, like White Oak Sinks. I just kept taking my walks in the spring, knowing I’d see them sooner or later. I found two clumps of them today in the Plott Balsams.

“The conspicuous slipperlike pouch formed by the lower petal is a trap for capturing bees, which are released only after being coated with pollen. American Indians used the roots of these plants, as did 19th century physicians, for many types of nervous ailments such as hysteria, insomnia, and premenstrual syndrome.” —Appalachian Wildflowers, Thomas E. Hemmerly.

A pair of slippers.

A pair of slippers.

Both of the clumps I saw had three blossoms.

Both of the clumps I saw had three blossoms.

I enjoyed the color yellow in other things I saw today.

Blue and yellow (bluets and cinquefoil).

Blue and yellow (bluets and cinquefoil).

Yellow with orange centers (roundleaf ragwort).

Yellow with orange centers (roundleaf ragwort).

Pale purple with yellow centers (fleabane).

Pale purple with yellow centers (fleabane).

Yellow and brown (lousewort).

Yellow and brown (lousewort).

Yellow surrounded by green (golden alexander).

Yellow surrounded by green (golden alexander).

Purple and yellow (golden alexander and geraniums).

Purple and yellow (golden alexander and geraniums).

Blue and yellow, signifying purple and gold (we are in Western Carolina University territory).

Blue and yellow trail blaze, signifying purple and gold (we are in Western Carolina University territory).

Pink (wild azalea).

Pink (wild azalea).

Transparent (Fisher Creek).

Transparent (Fisher Creek).