Venus Slippers

Calypso bulbosa – Venus Slippers

Venus SlipperCalypso bulbosa

bulbosa = L. “swollen , having bulbs, bulbous”;

Identification: This small orchid rises from a bulbous corm to a height of 5-15 cm. It is one of our most beautiful orchids, with a mauve and white flower. The solitary leaf is basal and round-ovate.

Distribution & Habitat: This plantĀ“s geographical distribution is nearly circumpolar, growing in coniferous forest associated with Cornus canadensis (bunchberry) and Equisetum pratense (horsetail). It grows from low to medium altitudes, disappearing at the upper limits of the lodgepole pine. It is said to be rare but tends to be locally abundant in spring and early summer.

Preparation & Uses: The rather small bulb-corms are quite tasty. They are starchy and nutty-flavoured and I have had several meals with them added to a salad. They are good raw, roasted or boiled. The whole herb is edible. If they are locally abundant, cropping 10-20% of the stand should not affect the population if it is off the beaten track. Remember, some areas have laws against picking this plant.