Species At Risk

Small White Lady’s-slipper

(Cypripedium candidum)


Small White Lady’s-slipper
Small White Lady’s-slipper occurrences map


Small White Lady’s-slipper is a perennial orchid that grows up to 25 centimetres high. The mostly white flowers bloom in May and early June and look like a small slipper. Fruit capsules form in June and July. The fruit opens up in September and October and releases thousands of tiny seeds.

Action we are taking:


The range of the Small White Lady’s-slipper extends from southern Ontario and New York state, west to southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and south through the United States midwest to Missouri and Kentucky. In Canada, it is limited to isolated populations in southern Ontario and southern Manitoba. The Small White Lady’s-slipper has disappeared from Saskatchewan and from the Bruce, Kent, Norfolk and Welland counties of Ontario; some plants are still found in Lambton and Hastings counties in Ontario.

There are seven populations of Small White Lady’s-slipper remaining in Ontario with a total of about 14,600 plants.


In Ontario, Small White Lady’s-slipper grows in moist prairies, savannahs, and rich calcareous (limestone) wetlands, known as fens. This plant does best in full sunlight conditions.


The primary threat to Small White Lady’s-slipper is habitat loss and degradation mainly due to development. Alteration of hydrology through draining of sites, competition from invasive species, and the possible illegal collection of these showy plants are also significant threats. The control of wildfires also allows shade-producing plants and bushes to take over open prairie areas, producing shady conditions detrimental to the lady’s slipper.

Recreational activities, including hiking and use of ATVs, are also threats. Isolation of the populations and cross-breeding with other species, such as Yellow Lady’s-slipper, is resulting in hybrids.


The Small White Lady’s-slipper is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help Small White Lady’s-slipper

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Small White Lady’s-slipper. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Small White Lady’s-slipper and many other species at risk depend on healthy grassland prairies, a rare habitat in Ontario. Learn more about these habitats, the species that depend on them, and what you can do to help at www.tallgrassontario.org.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • The Carolinian forests of southern Ontario support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada is working to help recover species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: www.carolinian.org/SpeciesHabitats.htm.

Did you know?

As with all orchids, Small White Lady’s-slipper and fungus found in the soil are interdependent for their nourishment and survival.

Did you know?

Individual Small White Lady’s-slipper plants may not flower until as many as 16 years after germination.

Did you know?

The fine, small seeds of Small White Lady’s-slipper are dispersed by wind.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.