Tips on Finding the Pink Lady Slipper Orchids in the Forest

I’ve been hunting for these Pink Lady Slipper Orchids since 2011 when my neighbor showed me where to find them in the Pennsylvania woods behind my house in Park Forest. I find them every year. Here’s what I learned: don’t look for the orchid bloom. The stunning pink bloom has a way of strangely blending into the understory. You’ll set out, looking for that bloom, and you’ll come away confounded.

First, wait for a colder, wet day. The Pink Lady Slippers like to bloom on cool, moist days.

Second, go to the forest floor and look for an open space near a tree. These wild orchids depend up a certain fungus in that spot to grow, so you’ll always find them near trees whose roots offer this symbiotic relationship since the fungus needs the orchids, too.

Finally, look further down. Go to the base of things. Look for the dark, sometimes glossy leaves. When you find these leaves, you’ll suddenly see a whole colony of Pink Lady Slipper Orchids (that you can’t believe you missed) come into sharp focus. They never grow alone.

As I returned from my hike, so joyful I found them again, I realized the spiritual principle of seeking the foundational things, not the prize.

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