Are there flowers in Nova Scotia that are illegal to pick? Surprisingly the answer is yes! Most of us know of “Lady Slippers” – they are a variety of wild orchid that grows in Nova Scotia. These flowers are renowned for their beauty, which is what prompts many people to pick them. Unfortunately, Lady Slippers have some reproductive quirks that, combined with their tendency to be picked, makes reproduction challenging.
Lady Slipper reproduction
Lady Slippers produce no nectar and rely on fragrance to lure insects into falling into their slipper-like pouch. This forces the insect to climb past the staminode on the way out, pollinating the flower on the way. In addition to preferring moist soil and shade, Lady Slippers also have a symbiotic relationship with a particular microscopic soil fungus, and their seeds will not germinate without the fungus present. This makes Lady Slippers challenging (though not impossible) to grow indoors. Lady Slippers’ very specific growing requirements mean that you should not disturb those you find growing in the wild.
Are they illegal to pick?
There are four varieties of Lady Slipper that grow in Nova Scotia (one of which is the Pink Lady Slipper, pictured above). Only the Ram’s Head variety (cypripedium arietinum, pictured opposite) is listed as an endangered species pursuant to s. 12 of the Endangered Species Act. S. 13 of the Act makes it an offence to disturb a designated species. If you do as an individual you could face a maximum of a $5000 fine, or 6 months in jail, or both. Illegal or not, the best advice if you come across a Lady Slipper is look but don’t touch!
To see the complete list of species designated under s. 12 of Nova Scotia’s Endangered Species Act click here.