If you have recently been on a hike this spring in East Tennessee, or on any part of the Appalachian Trail, you may have happened upon one of these sweet little wildflowers. My family and I stumbled upon this little jewel while hiking in the Savage Gulf State Park about a month ago, and I won’t lie, I got so excited to see such a peculiar little flower coming into bloom. Took a picture of it with my husband’s phone and later looked up “balloon- looking flower” on the Internet to discover it is Cypripedioideae, commonly known as the “moccasin flower” or “lady’s slipper.”
This beautiful woodland wildflower is a member of the orchid family. It was a once common wildflower of eastern North America but is becoming a rarity to find as there is less forestry in the U.S. than there once was and its popularity has faded (I don’t see why it has faded, just look at it- it’s gorgeous! ). It is listed as an endangered plant in Tennessee.
It often takes four to sixteen years for the moccasin flower to produce its first bloom, making its bloom even more spectacular! These little jewels prefer wet, swampy type ground with dense shade, which allows them to be mostly found on the shaded forest floor.
Blooming in early May through mid- June in our area, it is a sweet treasure to stumble upon when you are out enjoying nature!
So their bloom time for this year is upon us! Keep your eyes peeled when you are out enjoying a hike in the forest- this sweet little flower is even sweeter in person and is so unique and lovely in its own special way.