A preliminary assessment of the conservation status ofCypripediumspecies in the wild

Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 126(1):183 (1998)

The conservation of few plants produces such an emotive response as that of hardy slipper orchids of the genus Cypripedium. The genus, comprising 45 species and two varieties, is holarctic in distribution with the centre of diversity in China. Much is known about the status of some species and their populations in Europe and North America, but little information is available on the Asiatic and Mexican species. Most cypripediums are showy orchids and are well represented in herbaria, allowing an estimate of the present distribution, frequency and conservation status of the known species to be made. The authors conclude that having considered the number of herbarium specimens, nearly half of the genus may be considered threatened and in need of some legal protection if the plants are to survive in the wild. They identify a need to examine the conservation status of the taxa in this genus more closely, and outline two important conservation tools that may help efforts to this end: the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria for the Amendment of the Appendices of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

DOI: 10.1006/bojl.1997.0153