Calypso bulbosa (L.) Oakes

Calypso, Fairy Slipper

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Cytherea bulbosa

Calypso bulbosa, commonly called Fairy Slipper, has a circumboreal distribution; in North America, it is found across Canada from Alaska to Newfoundland and in the northeastern and western United States. It produces a solitary basal leaf in the autumn which senesces soon after flowering. A solitary flower (rarely 2) is produced in the late spring, usually pink, magenta, or white, with a pouch-like labellum that can be spotted with contrasting colors such as yellow. Its lateral petals and sepals spread distinctively outwards. In most of North America, it is found in wet coniferous or mixed forests and bogs; in the northwest, it is found in drier, shady coniferous forests.

Calypso bulbosa is considered to be globally secure but is considered rare in a few states, including Vermont, Michigan, and Wisconsin.


This orchid provides no reward but relies on bright color, anther-like hairs, and sweet smell to deceive naive pollinators, mainly newly emerged queen bumblebees.

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties

There are two varieties of this orchid in North America: Calypso bulbosa var. americana, which is widely distributed across Canada and the United States and has a white or pinkish labellum; and Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, which is found only in the northwestern regions of Canada and the United States, and has white and reddish markings on the labellum.

Ecosystem Type

Bogs, disturbed habitats, floodplains, forests, swamps, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is lobed
Main color of labellum:
  • pink to red
  • white
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence has one flower or a pair of flowers
Labellum characteristics:
  • the labellum is lobed
  • the labellum is saccate
Labellum length:
13–23 mm
Sepal length:
10–24 mm
Plant height:
5–22 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status Secure

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data