The subfamily Cypripedioideae is monophyletic and consists of five genera: Cypripedium, Mexipedium, Paphiopedilum, Phragmipedium and Selenipedium. Members of this subfamily are often called Lady Slippers (aka Lady's Slipper, Lady's-slipper, Ladyslipper).
This subfamily has been considered by some (Rasmussen, 1985) to be a family Cypripediaceae, separate from the Orchidaceae.
This subfamily is distinguished by their slipper-shaped pouches (modified labellums), which function by trapping insects so that they are forced to climb up past the staminode, behind which they collect or deposit pollinia. Plants have mealy or paste-like pollen, which ordinarily are not aggregated into pollinia, with two oblong or oval anthers, leaves with stealthing bases, shelter-like staminodium and labellum generally saccate. Their common features are two fertile diandrous (that is, with two perfect stamens) anthers, a shield-shaped staminode and a saccate (sac-shaped) lip.
- For more information see Cypripedium
Cypripedium are found across much of North America, as well as in parts of Europe. The state flower of Minnesota is the Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae). The Pink Lady's Slipper, (Cypripedium acaule), is the official state wildflower of New Hampshire. The Lady's Slipper is also the official provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, a small province of Canada
- For more information see Paphiopedilum
Paphiopedilums are found in the tropical forests of southeast Asia reaching as far north as southern China. Paphiopedilum is quite easy to cultivate and therefore is popular among orchid enthusiasts. In fact, overcollecting of this genus has caused some problems in its original habitat.
- For more information see Selenipedium
- For more information see Phragmipedium
Phragmipedium, found across northern South and Central America, is also easy to cultivate as it requires lower temperatures than Paphiopedilum, eliminating the need for a greenhouse in many areas.
- For more information see Mexipedium xerophyticum
Plants in this genus unilocular ovary resembling both Paphiopedilum and Cypripedium.
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