Lady’s Slipper Orchid Flower: Meaning, Symbolism, and Colors

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This article will tell you all you need to know about the Lady’s slipper orchids, the exquisite flower that orchid collectors love. It will also inform you the lady slipper flower meaning, its habitat and symbolism.

The lady slipper flower meaning can be found in its unique and beautiful shape. When it blooms, the flower has pouches that are shaped like slippers, with spirally arranged leaves. It is Europe’s largest species of orchids, growing up to 60 centimeters in height. This exotic look and impressive size makes the lady’s slipper orchid stand out among its species.

The pouch of the flower that gave the lady slipper flower meaning also helps the flower pollinate. The pouch is used to trap insects, forcing them to either collect the pollen from within the flower or deposit pollen from another flower. This helps the flower to get fertilized.

The lady’s slipper orchid’s scientific name is Cypripedium calceolus. This comes from the Greek word Kupris pedion which means ‘the foot of Venus’. Venus is the Roman goddess of beauty, love and desire. The second word, calceolus, means ‘small shoe’ in Latin. Put together, the lady slipper flower meaning is – the small shoe on the foot of Venus, symbolizing beauty, love and womanhood.

The lady’s slipper orchids can be found in almost every country in Europe. It has also spread wide across Asia all the way to Japan, as well as across South and Central America. The lady’s slipper orchids cannot be found in Australia or in Africa. The lady’s slipper orchid is so beloved and desired by the people that its numbers have declined in Europe. In fact, there was only a single specimen of Cypripedium calceolus found surviving in Britain in the late 20th century. Many regions are legally protecting the species to prevent it from dying out.

What does the Lady’s slipper orchid flower symbolize?

Orchids are meant to symbolize luxury and elegance, as well as love. In the language of flowers, the lady’s slipper orchids symbolize capricious beauty. It stands for sudden and unpredictable attraction, which can also signify the effect the flower has on people. People are so drawn to it that they want to pluck it and add it to their collection at home. The lady slipper flower meaning can be analyzed deeper than a literal sense.

The lady’s slipper orchid is also historically known as the moccasin flower in America. There are tales about the flower originating from Native American tribes, about a village affected by a plague. A young girl left the village to find a cure for the plague. After a dangerous adventure, she succeeds, but along the way she loses her moccasins. She leaves a trail of bloody footprints through the snow, which in spring gave birth to the first moccasin flowers. Poets inspired by these tales symbolized the moccasin flower as a sign of death. Since it became rare and endangered it was also said to symbolize Native American culture.

What do the various colors of the Lady’s finger orchid flower mean?

1) Pink lady’s slipper orchids

The pink lady’s slipper orchid is the most common color of these orchids. The flowers are sometimes a mix of white and pink, or sometimes come in a darker pinkish magenta. These colors are meant to represent joy, love and grace.

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2) Yellow lady’s slipper orchids

This is a common color of lady’s slipper orchids. The yellow color is meant to represent new beginnings and friendship.

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3) White lady’s slipper orchids

Sometimes the flower turns out to be completely pure white. In this case, like most white flowers, the white orchids represent purity, peace and innocence.

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4) Purple lady’s slipper orchids

Sometimes the lady’s slipper orchids bring forth darker colors like purple. Purple orchids symbolize royalty and admiration.

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Interesting facts and characteristics of the Lady’s slipper orchid flowers

1) The lady’s slipper orchids is a very popular image on postage stamps in several countries across Europe. Some countries where you can find the lady’s slipper orchids on postage stamps are Italy, France, Sweden, Norway, England and Austria, to name a few.

2) The lady’s slipper orchid went extinct in Greece and almost died out in Britain, which had one remaining plant. The reason for the lady’s slipper orchid’s endangered status is not only the uprooting by people, but also because of over grazing by sheep. After the lady’s slipper orchid became a protected species, there was a reintroduction program leading to an increase in population once again.

3) The lady’s slipper orchid is the largest species of orchids that can be found in Europe. Even without its distinct flowers, it can be differentiated from other orchids by the large size of its leaves.

4) The very first recorded cultivation of the lady’s slipper orchids is from 1731, in the Chelsea Physic Garden. The rarity of the flower and the difficulty in growing it means it is one of the most valued plants in any flora collection.

5) The lady’s slipper orchid has appeared in a few Renaissance illustrations, such as the Bischofzell tapestry from 1510 and Conrad Gessner’s art work from 1541.

6) The lady’s slipper orchid is also well known for its medicinal values. The yellow lady’s slipper orchids in particular are great sedatives that can control tremors, epilepsy and nervous incidents. The root if powdered is also said to produce deep and relaxing sleep. Other conditions that the plant can help combat are hysteria, anxiety and stress headaches.

7) In some countries, it is illegal to pluck a lady’s slipper orchids, owing to their endangered status. The lady’s slipper orchid does not heal itself if damaged and struggles to spread naturally, so it is advisable to leave them alone in the wild.

8) Pink lady’s slippers take a very long time to mature from seeds into plants and can live for up to two decades. They depend on certain fungus found in the soil to attain nutrients to live. The fungus helps break open the lady’s slipper orchid’s seeds and spreads food into the seed. After the plant grows up, the fungus takes back nutrients from roots, as a symbiotic relationship.

Best time to gift someone Lady’s slipper orchid flowers

The lady’s slipper orchid is certainly an exotic gift that is rare and valuable. There is no limit to when you can gift it to someone. Whatever the occasion may be, it would be a fantastic floral gift whether for a wedding, or a birthday, or an anniversary.

The beauty of the lady’s slipper orchids means it would be the perfect romantic gift, especially since the flower represents love and happiness.

The best way to gift a lady’s slipper orchid may be as a potted gift, since it the gift will be a valuable life. However, ensure that the person to whom you give the gift to will be ready to take care of it. The lady’s slipper orchid prefers moist soil conditions, indirect sunlight and a loving touch.


The lady’s slipper orchid is a beautiful and exotic wildflower that has fought back extinction to live with us today. Although they are rare to find and hard to grow, they are worth every ounce of trouble we take for them. Few flowers can compare to their beautiful and unique shape and design. For centuries, in both science and art, the flower has fascinated us and will continue to do so in the future.