Cypripedium acaule Moccasin Flower

Cypripedium acaule is very widespread from north to south in the eastern Unite States. It occurs in a variety of habitats that vary from bogs to dry upland pine forests. The common aspect among these habitats is the very acidic pH of the medium. The flowers of Cyp. acuale are usually pink but vary to white and very dark cherry-colored flowers. We have listed several of the varieties that have been described, consistent with Cribb.

  • C. acaule Aiton 1789
    1. forma albiflorum Rand & Redfield 1894
    2. forma biflorum PM Brown 1995

An Ojibwe tale relates the origin of ma-ki-sin waa-big-waan - a girl endured a blizzard to cure her sick family and other members of her village. Wearing deerskin moccasins, she walked all day until she reached the wigwams of a village of people who had healing herbs. Without rest, she started back in the worsening storm, losing her moccasins in the deep snow. Undeterred, she pressed on, leaving her bloody footprints to stain the white, frozen ground. Because of her efforts, she saved her village, and in the spring, red, moccasin-shaped flowers appeared in place of her bloody footprints. Every spring the blooms return as a reminder of the girl's courage and sacrifice.


Map was drawn from a digital map from Šplaniglobe 2004

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Cypripedium acaule

Cypripedium acaule with very darkly colored flower growing in a white pine forest in Litchfield County, Connecticut USA.

Cypripedium acaule

Cypripedium acaule forma albiflorum growing in a white pine forest in Litchfield County, Connecticut USA.