Here is some information on native orchids that bloom in May and June.
- Cypripedium parviflorum (Ladies Slipper)
At one time this orchid was found in many locations in Utah. Today l only know of one location where this orchid grows in the wild, that is up Red Butte Canyon above the gardens and on the opposite side of the creek in the bog area. The plants are near a hibernation area for snakes. When in bloom in late May care should be taken around this area because of rattlesnakes. There are a few collected plants around.
Ladies Slippers prefer partially shaded marshy areas usually close to streams. The bloom period extends from late May to mid June depending on elevation. Flowers occur 1-2 per inflorescence. Sepals and petals are yellowish green to purple. Dorsal sepals and petals twisted, pouch yellow with purple dots.
- Cypripedium montanum (Mountain Ladies Slipper)
The Mountain Ladies Slipper has never been verified in Utah but it must surely be here. It occurs in all the surrounding states and I have had quite a few people tell me about one and they describe it, but we cannot verify it.
The blooms are mostly white with other colors. This orchid grows higher in the mountains and in drier locations with most sightings coming from the Uintas. The bloom period is mid to late June.
- Calypso bulbosa (Fairy Slipper)
The Fairy Slipper is one of the smallest but most colorful orchids in Utah. The plant is widely distributed throughout the Utah Mountains. They prefer semi-shaded areas in lodgepole pine stands with grass and lots of pine needle duff. The Plants are about 2-4 inches tall and are very difficult to see in the grass and pine needles. The best Way to spot them is to stand in a probable location and thoroughly look over the ground. When you spot the first one, you will usually find many more. The single flowers have lavender sepals and petals with a colorful lip of white, tan, and maroon stripes. Bright yellow hairs grow on the tip of the lip. One good location to find the Fairy Slipper is on the north side of Highway 150 (Mirror Lake Highway) across from the Soapstone campground. These plants bloom from late May to mid June.
- Platanthera dilatata – Syn Habenaria dilatata (White Bog Orchid)
This orchid grows on the riverside of Highway 150 in the boggy area opposite from the Fairy Slipper orchids. Plants are two feet tall and flowers are white. They bloom at the same time as the Fairy Slipper orchid.
- Epipactis gigantea (Helleborne )
Helleborne grows statewide in damp soils along streams. Plants are 2-3 feet tall. Flowers are small but colorful showy brown to brownish purple. Lip marked red or purple. The largest population I know is at Painter Springs in Millard Count. Here they are the dominant species along the watercourse. A bonus orchid plant found here is Platanthera sparsiflora and it blooms at the same time as Helleborne. The bloom period is late May to early June.
Happy orchid observing (not collecting), Jim C.