Calabogie Hiker: Yellow Lady's Slipper, Medicinal

BLOG 12: The extremely beautiful Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) is scattered throughout the highlands. I took this photo of the picture included in this article from Wabun Lake near Calabogie, ON. Lady’s Slippers bloom between May and July in rich woods and Bogs. They were more common in the past but heavy harvesting for medicinal use in the last century has decreased its population. Did you know the highest concentration of Lady’s slippers in the area (and possibly highest in Canada) is found right along the Ottawa River near the Braeside quarry on private property? No worries, you can take the McNamara Trail in Arnprior near the end of June to the beginning of July and see a spectacular close view of this medicinal herb in large numbers. Yellow Lady’s Slipper was used as a gentle nervous stimulant and for its anti-spasmodic actions. According to Mrs. Grieve, the Yellow Lady’s Slipper was commonly known as American Valerian, having the same properties as Valerian but in a milder form. Several varieties of lady’s slipper (including the pink one) were used around the world by physicians but our Canadian variety found here in the Highlands, Cypripedium pubescens, was the most sought-after Lady’s slipper around the world. At the time of the books publication in 1931, American Valerian was still being officially used in the United States pharmacopoeia to produce a fluid extract for physicians. According to herbalist Foster and Duke, the Yellow Lady’s Slipper was widely used in the 19th century America as a sedative for nervous headaches, hysteria and insomnia, nervous irritability, mental depression from sexual abuse and PMS symptoms.

{Sources: Photograph: Colleen Hulett. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herb of Eastern and Central North America. Steven Foster and James Duke, 2nd Edition. Boston 2000. A Modern Herbal. Mrs. M. Grieve F.R.H.S., 1st Edition. Great Britain 1931.}

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