Cypripedium calceolus

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaOrchidaceaeCypripediumCypripedium calceolus


A rhizomatous perennial herb found on well-drained calcareous soils derived from limestone, in herb-rich grassland or, formerly, in open woodland. Plants are long-lived but seed-set may be poor. Generally lowland, but upper altitudinal limit unknown.



World Distribution

Circumpolar Boreo-temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Calcareous grassland (includes lowland and montane types)

Light (Ellenberg): 5

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 2.2

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 13.9

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1270

Life form information

Height (cm): 30

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Non-bulbous geophyte (rhizome, corm or tuber)



Clonality - primary

Rhizome shortly creeping

Comment on Clonality

herb with creeping rhizome (CTW)

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 22

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Distribution information

Plantatt Conservation Status

Critically endangered

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (331b)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Kull T
1999.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 208. Cypripedium calceolus L. Journal of Ecology. 87:913-924.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Ramsey MM, Stewart J
1998.  Re-establishment of the lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus L.) in Britain. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 126:173-181.
Wigginton MJ
1999.  British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3.