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Paphiopedilum armeniacum

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LIGHT bright, diffused light. It should not be exposed to direct sun






Jay's Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia

Paphiopedilum armeniacum from Wikipedia

American Orchid Society "Q and A"

Slipperorchids Info

Orchids Web

Kew Botanical Gardens (London)

Akatsuka Orchid Gardens

The IUCN List of Endangered Species discussion on Paph. armeniacum



This article was originally printed in 1995 in the American Orchid Society Bulletin, 64(7): 738-741.

Paphiopedilum armeniacum Chen and Liu

Its habitat and culture.

Charles and Margaret Baker


Paphiopedilum armeniacum was introduced to western cultivation in 1979. Its' introduction created amost instantaneous interest and excitement which has continued throughout the intervening years. The large, round, clear yellow flowers are beautiful and unique to the genus. The plants' beauty is enhanced by the strongly marbled leaves with the dark and light bluish green tesselations on the top surface and dense purple spotting on the underside. Unlike many orchids, it is an attractive plant even when out of bloom.

Although it has been given broad and frequent coverage in many publications, very little factual information has been available about its habitat. Cultural instructions have ranged from warm to cool growing with nearly every possible combination in-between. By the mid to late 1980s, the late Dr. Jack Fowlie reported the habitat location in The Orchid Digest, but he was unable to the provide the elevation. Armed with Dr. Fowlie's verbal description of the region in which the plants were found and topographical maps of the area, we estimated the habitat elevation at about 3000 ft. (910 m). Calculating temperatures for this elevation resulted in temperatures consistent with those recommended by Lance Birk in his excellent work, The Paphiopedilum Grower's Manual. So we cautiously recommended winter lows of 40-43°F (4-6°C), even though others were recommending much warmer winter conditions. We felt that our recommended temperatures were reasonably close to habitat conditions. Because we are always uneasy about recommendations based on estimations and assumptions however, we continued our search for the elusive habitat elevation.

Then suddenly and unexpectedly, through no effort on our part, the search was over. On a trip to China, a friend found a recently published book titled Orchids, which she loaned us. The book includes a color photograph taken in the habitat and brief discussion of 180 orchid species found in China. Since it has no index, we leisurely leafed our way through it, and suddenly there was the answer! P. armeniacum was pictured and listed as growing at 6550 ft. (2000 m) in the exact region Dr. Fowlie had reported.

With this information, we are finally able to offer, with a high degree of confidence, the climatological conditions under which this species grows in nature. We do not suggest that these are the only conditions under which the plant can be cultivated. If it is already growing and blooming, then don't mess with it, regardless of what any "expert" suggests. However, if a plants' requirements are unknown when adding it to a collection, or if it is not growing as well as it should, then the climate data from the habitat offers a basis for providing the approximate conditions that will ensure success. Growers are reminded that changes should always be made slowly.

Paphiopedilum armeniacum grows in a remote area of southwest China near Bijiang in western Yunnan Province. Plants are found on limestone hills and cliffs in forests above the Salween (Nujiang) River near the border with northeastern Burma at about 26.5°N Latitude. They grow at about 6550 ft. (2000 m) among rocks in semishady mountain forests. The nearest weather station is about 95 miles. (150 km) away. It is located above the same river valley at about the same elevation, so conditions should be essentially the same at the two locations.

CLIMATE: Station #56748, Pao-Shan, China, Lat. 25.1°N, Long. 99.2°E, at 5554 ft. (1693 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 6550 ft. (2000 m), resulting in probable extremes of 87°F (30°C) and 25°F (-4°C).

F AVG MAX        59   60   67   73   74   75   74   74   73   70   64   60
F AVG MIN        32   36   40   46   55   61   62   61   57   52   40   34
DIURNAL RANGE    27   24   27   27   19   14   12   13   16   18   24   26
RAIN/INCHES     1.2  1.4  1.8  1.4  4.2  5.4  6.1  5.7  3.9  3.9  1.1  0.3
HUMIDITY/%       65   66   61   60   68   75   82   83   79   79   72   71
BLOOM SEASON      *    *    *                                       *
DAYS CLR @  7AM  23   15   17   14    9    3    1    1    5    7   19   20
DAYS CLR @  1PM  19    9   13    6    3    0    0    1    2    5   16   19
RAIN/MM          30   36   46   36  107  137  155  145   99   99   28    8
C AVG MAX      15.0 15.6 19.4 22.8 23.3 24.0 23.4 23.3 22.8 21.1 17.8 15.6
C AVG MIN       0.0  2.1  4.3  7.6 12.6 16.0 16.5 16.0 13.7 11.0  4.3  1.0
DIURNAL RANGE  15.0 13.5 15.1 15.2 10.7  8.0  6.9  7.3  9.1 10.1 13.5 14.6


Cultural Recommendations

LIGHT: 1800-2500 fc. P. armeniacum is healthiest in rather bright, diffused light. It should not be exposed to direct sun. Strong air movement should be provided at all times, and plants thrive when placed in the strong, cool, moist airflow near the outlet of an evaporative cooler.

TEMPERATURES: Summer days average 75-75°F (23-24°C), and nights average 61-62°F (16-17°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C).

Winter days average 59-60°F (15-16°C), and nights average 32-36°F (0-2°C), with a diurnal range of 24-27°F (14-15°C). The increase in the diurnal range results from the somewhat cooler days and the much cooler nights.

HUMIDITY: 80-85% in summer and early autumn, dropping to 60-65% in winter and early spring.

WATER: Rainfall is moderate to heavy from late spring into autumn, with a 5-6 month dry season from late autumn to early spring. Although rainfall is low in early winter, moisture is also available from heavy dew, fog, and mist which is not indicated in the rainfall averages. Cultivated plants should be kept evenly moist while actively growing with only slight drying allowed between waterings. Water should be gradually reduced in late autumn, but plants should never be allowed to dry out completely.

FERTILIZER: A balanced fertilizer mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength should be applied weekly to biweekly while plants are actively growing. Many growers recommend using a fertilizer higher in nitrogen, such as 30-10-10, if plants are potted in bark. Also, some growers recommend using a fertilizer lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus in autumn to promote better blooming the next season and to allow new growths to harden before winter. Fertilizer should be reduced or eliminated during the rest period until water is increased in spring.

P. armeniacum does not grow well when salts accumulate in the medium. In order to prevent salt buildup, the medium should be leached every few weeks when fertilizer is being applied. This is especially important in areas with heavily mineralized water. To leach the medium, first water the plant normally to dissolve any accumulated salts, and then an hour or so later flush the media with water equal to about twice the volume of the pot.

REST PERIOD: Growers report that cultivated plants grow and flower well with winter nights of 46-50°F (8-10°C), and some even indicate success with 60°F (16°C) nights. However, for the continued, long-term health of the plant, a cool winter rest should be provided. Plants that have evolved under conditions requiring a dormant or rest period sometimes suddenly expire for no apparent reason when they are allowed to grow continuously without a rest. They simply grow themselves to death. P. armeniacum probably does not need a rest period that is quite as long or severe as indicated by the climate table, but for at least 1-2 months, night temperatures should be lowered to near 50°F (10°C) and water should be reduced.

GROWING MEDIA: Plants may be somewhat difficult to manage because they tend to produce new growths as much as 6 inches (15 cm) away from the last growth. Because of the long rhizomes, new growths are easily trapped inside the pot which results in either damage or death of the new growth and possible disease in the mother plant. Consequently, many growers prefer to use a hanging basket made from wire mesh or wooden slats that is lined with moss. If pots are used, a wide, shallow type, such as a bulb pan, with a width about twice the depth is recommended. A regular pot which is large enough to accommodate the long distances between growths is too deep and stays wet too long. This quickly causes the medium to become soggy and stale, and conditions are then in place for a good case of root rot.

In nature, plants with long rhizomes often grow in thick moss or in deep layers of leaf humus suggesting that they are best cultivated in an open, well drained media that remains moist but not soggy. Most growers use fine or medium grade fir bark mixed with perlite or other moisture retaining additives. Chopped sphagnum is often added to the mix, especially in drier areas with low humidity. Charcoal may be included to keep the medium open and keep it from becoming sour. Because plants grow on limestone cliffs in nature, some growers recommend adding limestone chips to the medium. Growers are cautioned that limestone dissolves rapidly in cold water, however, and this may result in a buildup of toxic levels of calcium within the medium. Growers in areas with highly mineralized water should not add limestone to the potting mix.

Plants may be repotted at any time, but it is usually done in spring immediately after flowering. This gives the plant a chance to recover and become established before the stress of summer heat. When repotting, the junction of the roots and stem should be about one inch. (2.5 cm) below the top rim of the pot and about 1/2 in. (1.3 cm) below the top of the medium. If the medium settles so that the junction is exposed, more medium should be added to cover it.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based on cultivation records. Some writers, however, report blooming from summer through late autumn.

We hope that this information will provide growers who have had trouble growing P. armeniacum with an indication of what they might do to produce a healthy specimen. It is indeed a beautiful plant. In our greenhouse, we have found it relatively easy to grow and flower if minimal attention is given to its cultural requirements.


Bechtel, P. 1989. The FCCs of 1988. American Orchid Society Bulletin 58(9):875.

Bechtel, P. 1990. The FCCs of 1989. American Orchid Society Bulletin 59(10):1004.

Bechtel, P. 1991. The FCCs of 1990. American Orchid Society Bulletin 60(9):847.

Birk, L. 1983. The Paphiopedilum grower's manual. Pisang Press, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

Cash, C. 1991. The slipper orchids. Timber Press, Inc. 9999 S. W. Wilshire, Portland, OR 97225.

Cribb, P. 1987. The genus Paphiopedilum. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Timber Press, 9999 S. W. Wilshire, Portland, OR. 97225.

Fowlie, J. A. 1987. A Note on the Yellow Flavistic Variety of Paphiopedilum armeniacum var. Mark Fun, Orchid Digest, 51(4):205, Oct.-Nov.-Dec.

Fowlie, J. A. 1992. China: awash in the bitter sea, Part VIII. The ladyslipper orchids (Genus Paphiopedilum) of the western side of the Guizhow Plateau. Orchid Digest 56(1):41, Jan.-Mar.

Hamilton, R. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton, 9211 Beckwith Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada V6X 1V7.

Mark, F. 1987. A Preliminary Introduction to and Cultivation of the Chinese Slipper Orchid, Genus Paphiopedilum. Orchid Digest, 51(2):63, Apr.-May-June.

Peterson, K. E. 1986. The FCCs of 1985. American Orchid Society Bulletin 55(9):884.

Peterson, K. E. 1987. The FCCs of 1986. American Orchid Society Bulletin 56(7):689.

Peterson, K. E. 1988. The FCCs of 1987. American Orchid Society Bulletin 57(8):842.

Yang Zenghong, Zhang Qitai, Feng Zhizhou, Lang Kaiyong, and Li Heng. 1993. Orchids. China Esperanto Press.

          Charles and Margaret Baker, Portland, Oregon, USA
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From Jay's


Common Name The Apricot Orange Paphiopedilum - In China Xing Huang Dou Lan

Flower Size 3" [7.5 cm]

Text by Yassir Islam

Arguably the most striking of the parvisepalums, Paph.armeniacum has garnered almost 100 AOS awards since its introduction in the US more than a decade ago. Even so, its popularity remains undiminished. With its large golden yellow flowers and amazing pouch, it is easy to see why.

This is a small, warm to cool growing, terrestrial species found on limestone cliffsides in humus with semi shade, they have distichous, 5 to 7 oblong, obtuse to acute, apically serrulate, dark and lighter green mottled leaves and purple spots beneath found in Yunnan provine of China at altitudes up to 2000 meters that has an erect, 10" [25 cm] long, green, pubescent, and spotted purple inflorescence with lanceolate,-ovate, acute floral bracts that gives rise to a single, thin textured flower in the winter and early spring that is held above the leaves and was discovered only in 1982. Paph armeniacum blooms on a terminal, erect, single flowered inflorescence with a lanceolate-ovate bract in spring and summer on a compact plant , which is often dwarfed by the size of the flower. The plant pictured is blooming in a 3" pot! This speecies can be grown in a hanging basket so as to accomodate the well spaced growths.

Synonyms Paphiopedilum armeniacum f. markii (O.Gruss) Braem in G.J.Braem, C.O.Baker & M.L.Baker 1998; Paphiopedilum armeniacum var. markii O.Gruss 1997; Paphiopedilum armeniacum var. mark-fun Fowlie 1987; Paphiopedilum armeniacum var. parviflorum Z.J.Liu & J.Yong Zhang 2001; Paphiopedilum armeniacum var. undulatum Z.J.Liu & J.Yong Zhang 2001

References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list IPNI ; Orchid Digest Vol 48 No 3 1984 drawing/photo fide; AOS Bulletin Vol 55 No 7 1986 photo; Orchid Digest Vol 51 No 2 1987 photo fide; Orchid Digest 51 Vol 4 1987 photo fide; AOS Bulletin Vol 56 No 7 1987 PHOTO; Schlechteriana Vol 2 No 2 1991 photo; Orchid DIgest Vol 56 No 1 1992 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 61 No 9 1992 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 64 No 7 1995 photo; Orchid Digest Vol 59 No 3 1995 photo fide; AOS Bulletin Vol 64 No 10 1995 photo; Wild Orchids of China Tsi, Chen Mori 1997; AOS Bulletin Vol 67 No 9 1998 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 68 No 1 1999 photo; Native Orchids of China in Colour Singchi, Zhanhuo and Yibo 1999 photo fide; AOS Bulletin Vol 68 No 4 1999 photo; The Genus Paphiopedilum Vol 1 & 2 Braem 1999; Rudolf Schlechter Die Orchideen Lieferung 39 2000; AOS Bulletin Vol 69 No 3 2000; Orchids Australia Vol 12 No 6 2000 photo; Australian Orchid Review Vol 65 No 6 2000 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 70 No 9 2001 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 75 No 10 2006 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 10 2008 photo; Native Orchids From Gaoligongshan Mountains, China Xiaohua, Xiaodong and Xiaochun 2009 photo fide; A Field Guide to the Orchids of China Singchi, Zhongjian, Yibo, Xiaohua and Zhanhuo 2009 photo fide; Flora of China Vol 25 Zhengyi, Raven & Deyuan 2009; Flora of China Vol 25 Illustrations Zhengyi, Raven & Deyuan 2010 drawing fide; The Wild Orchids in Yunnan Xu Xiang Ye & Liu 2010 photos fide;



From Wikipedia


Paphiopedilum armeniacum is a species of flowering plant in the orchid family, Orchidaceae. It is known commonly as the apricot orange paphiopedilum[1] and golden slipper orchid.[2] It is endemic to China, where it occurs only in Yunnan.[1] It is also cultivated and has won prestigious awards at flower shows.[3]

This plant grows in soil or on rocks, spreading via creeping stolons. It produces 5 to 7 leathery purple-spotted green leaves each up to 12 centimeters long. There is usually one flower atop the hairy, purple-green scape, but occasionally a second flower is produced. The flower is up to 9 centimeters wide. It is yellow in color, streaked and spotted with maroon.[4]

In the wild this species grows on limestone substrates in rocky, brushy habitat. Its range is mainly limited to the Nu Jiang River Valley.[1][4] The population is fragmented and the species is in decline due to habitat destruction. The valuable plant is also poached for use in the horticultural trade.[1]



  1. Rankou, H. & Averyanov, L. 2015. Paphiopedilum armeniacum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015. Downloaded on 12 September 2015.
  2. Paphiopedilum armeniacum. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
  3. Liu, Z., et al. (2006). Conservation ecology of endangered species Paphiopedilum armeniacum (Orchidaceae). Acta Ecologica Sinica, 26(9), 2791-99.
  4. Paphiopedilum armeniacum. Flora of China.



American Orchid Society "Q and A"


I am having no success with growing Paphiopedilum armeniacum. To date, I have had three plants that died. I have had reasonably good success with its relatives, but not with this Chinese species. I grow these plants at intermediate temperatures (80º F day, 56º F nights) and pot with a bark mixture for paphiopedilums. Does Paph. armeniacum require conditions other than the ones mentioned above?

I have several suggestions based on my own experiences and observation of several baskets seen recently at Ileana de Teran's in San José , Costa Rica. Paphiopedilum armeniacum benefits from a growing medium with a pH in the slightly higher than 7.0 range; add dolomitic lime to any natural potting medium to keep it in this range. In New Zealand, I found the species responded favorably to cool winter conditions but only if it was kept on the dry side; cool and wet in the root zone was not a good environment. From June through October, it needs warm buoyant conditions and, during this time, a two- to three-week period between thorough watering is often sufficient, though of course this will depend somewhat on the conditions in your part of the country. If you water excessively in the spring, I suspect this is the main cause of the flowers aborting. I would normally grow this species in a shallow container and have cut down tall plastic pots for the purpose. However, the plants I saw growing in Costa Rica were as good as any I have seen in cultivation so, although it seems a little strange to recommend growing a terrestrial orchid in this fashion, I invite you to try a basket next time. Unfortunately, the species is once again rare in cultivation, but if you can source a plant you should soon have a basket full of stolons with flowers coming out at all sorts of strange angles. Andy Easton





Paph armeniacum blooms on a compact plant, which is often dwarfed by the size of the flower. The plant pictured is blooming in a 3" pot! The bud develops very slowly turning from green to yellow-green as it matures . Once the flower open the pouch slowly inflates to its full size. Arguably the most striking of the parvisepalums, paph.armeniacum has garnered almost 100 AOS awards since its introduction in the US more than a decade ago. Even so, its popularity remains undiminished. With its large golden yellow flowers and amazing pouch, it is easy to see why.
PLEASE NOTE: Since this is a Seedling Population (not a Mericlone which produces exact duplicates), the picture is for illustration purposes only. No two plants will be the same from this cross, and they will flower in a range of possibilities coming from the two parents.
Color Yellow
BloomSeason Spring,Fall,Winter
PropagationMethod Seedling
Fragrance No
PlantLocation Greenhouse,House,Outdoor-frost free
LightRequirement Low 800+ F.C.
Species True
CompactGrower True
Class Species
Genus Paph.
HybridName armeniacum
PodParent ameniacum 'Jumbo'
PollenParent ameniacum 'Canary'



Slipper Orchids Info


  • Described: S. C. Chen & Liu in Acta Botanica Yunnanica, 4(2): 163 (1982)
  • History: This species was described from plants collected by A.L. Zhang in 1979 in Bijiang, Yunnan Province, China.  Initially, Cribb (Cribb & Tang 1983) raised the possibility that Paph. armeniacum may be a color variant of Paph. delenatii.  As more plants became available, Cribb and other taxonomists realized Paph. armeniacum warranted species status.
    Paph. armeniacum entered the horticultural trade in large numbers only a few years later.  It soon gained a number of awards from orchid societies around the world, including 7 FCCs from the AOS in 4 years.  This species has since become common in cultivation and is being artificially propagated.  Large numbers of wild-collected plants are also still illegally entering the horticultural trade.
    Given the showiness of this species, it is surprising that it remained undescribed for so long.
  • Etymology: Derived from the name of the apricot tree, Prunus armeniaca (So named because of its supposed origin of Armenia.  The fruit trees actually originated from northeastern China).  This species was named for the erroneously described apricot color of its flowers.  All known examples are yellow.
  • Synonyms: none
  • Varieties & Forms:
    Paphiopedilum armeniacum fma. markii (Gruss in Die Orchidee, 48(5): 215-216 (1997)) Braem, Baker & Baker in The Genus Paphiopedilum, 1: 69 (1997) - albino form
  • Chromosome Count:
    2n =  metacentrics telocentrics n.f.
    26 26 0 52


Plant Habit

  • Leaves: 5-7, 6-15 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm wide, above mottled dark and light green, below purple-spotted
  • Inflorescence: 1-flowered, 23-60 cm long, green spotted purple, brown-pubescent
  • Bloom: 6-11 cm wide


Habitat Data

  • Distribution: found only in the Nu Shan between the Salween and Mekong Rivers and the Gaoligong Shan west of the Salween.
  • Elevation: 1350-2050 m
  • Peak Flowering in the Wild: late March-early May
  • Mean Temperature Range: 8-20°C
  • Light: moderate shade
  • Medium: shallow, well-drained soil, calcareous, pH 7.48-7.9
  • Water (D-drier, M-moderate, W-wetter):
    Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    Water D D D D M W W W M M D D




  • Braem, G.J., and Guy Chiron. Paphiopedilum. Saint-Genis Laval, France: Tropicalia, 2003.
  • Cribb, P, Tang, C. The Chinese Species of Paphiopedilum. Orchid Review 91 (1075):160-165, May; 1983.
  • Cribb, P. The Golden Slipper Orchid - Paphiopedilum armeniacum. Orchid Review 92 (1090):246, Aug; 1984.
  • Cribb, P.J. The Genus Paphiopedilum. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Natural History Publications in association with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 1998.
  • Cribb, P.J. "Wild Paphiopedilums, A Survey of Species in China Provides a Conservation Overview for This Horticulturally Important Genus." Orchids 68, no. 4 (Apr 1999): 340-49.
  • Gruss, O. "Albino Forms of the Slipper Orchids." Orchid Digest 69, no. 4 (Oct/Dec 2005): 204-29.
  • Karasawa, K. "Karyomorphological Studies on Four Species of Paphiopedilum." Bulletin of the Hiroshima Botanical Garden 5 (Dec 1982): 70-79.
  • Koopowitz, H., and N Hasegawa. "The Status of Paphiopedilum armeniacum." Orchid Digest 48, no. 3 (May/Jun 1984): 95-98.
  • Perner, H. Cypripediums in China, Part 1: A History of Cypripedium in China. Orchids 75 (10):764-769, Oct; 2006.
  • Tsi ZhanHuo et al. "A Preliminary Report on the Population Size, Ecology, and Conservation Status of Some Paphiopedilum Species (Orchidaceae) in Southwest China." Lindleyana 14, no. 1 (1999): 12-23.


Primary Hybrids (Link to page)





Paphiopedilum armeniacum is one of the parvisepalum group species from China. This plant was discovered in the early 1980's, and caused an immediate sensation when first seen in flower. The resulting hybrids from the large yellow flowers have been excellent. In nature, this plant is found growing on limestone cliffs in pockets where the winds flow through at high speed and the moisture collects against the mountains. The roots are growing in decomposed limestone.

Medium light is required. Grow between phalaenopsis and cattleya light levels. This plant will tolerate higher light, especially during the winter months.

40-75% is ideal. Less in the winter is tolerated, and more in the summer.

Water the plant as it approaches dryness, but in the winter keep drier in between waterings. This plant, like brachypetalums, can be susceptible to erwinia if kept too moist. This plant is tolerant of hard water, much more so than any of the other paphs, and can tolerate water with a pH of 8.0-8.5.

When using municipal water or water of higher pH, use GrowMore 20-10-20 at the rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon. If using rain, distilled, or reverse osmosis water, use CalMag 15-5-15, but switching to calcium nitrate every other fertilization to help keep the pH at a higher level.

We also highly recommend Green Jungle Orchid Food, especially formulated to work with rain, distilled, reverse osmosis water or water low in alkalinity. Fertilize with Green Jungle every time you water.

Flowering season is heaviest in March, but can occur up to 2 months before or after that period.

The best time to repot this plant is just after flowering in the spring. Use a well drained mix with air around the roots. Medium bark works well for plants in 3" or larger pots. Fine bark is used for plants in smaller pots.



From the Kew Botanical Gardens (London)


Paphiopedilum armeniacum (golden slipper orchid).  The endangered golden slipper orchid is highly prized as an ornamental.

Species information
Scientific name

Paphiopedilum armeniacum S.C.Chen & F.Y.Liu

Common name

golden slipper orchid

Conservation status

Rated by the IUCN as Endangered. Listed on CITES Appendix I.


Limestone cliffs and slopes, at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 m above sea level, where it is subjected to constant light fog in the winter and heavy rain in the summer.

Known hazards

None known.

Subclass: Magnoliidae
Superorder: Lilianae
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Genus: Paphiopedilum



About this species

Paphiopedilum armeniacum was described as recently as 1982, and many have wondered how such a striking species could have remained undiscovered for so long. It was given the name 'armeniacum' in reference to the apricot-coloured flowers of the first officially described specimen (a collection by A.L. Zhang from Bijiang in Yunnan). In contrast to this original observation, almost all subsequent specimens found have had sulphur-yellow flowers, hence the common name - golden slipper orchid - is perhaps more appropriate.


Genus:  Paphiopedilum
Geography and distribution Paphiopedilum armeniacum is found from China (west Yunnan province) to northern Myanmar. It occurs at 1,600 to 2,000 metres above sea level.
It is found growing on limestone hills, in semi-shaded deciduous forest, usually on cliffs above rivers.



Paphiopedilum armeniacum has elongated rhizomes (horizontal underground stem), which grow up to 25 cm long, usually spreading through leaf litter or around rocks and forming large clumps. Plantlets occur up to 15 cm apart and each bears 5 to 7 leaves. The upper surface of the leaves is greenish-white with a dark green marbled pattern. The lower leaf surface is heavily spotted with irregular dark purple-red patches, and the edges of the leaves are finely serrated. This species flowers from late autumn to early spring. The large, sulphur-yellow flowers are borne singly on a peduncle (flower stalk) that can be up to 60 cm long. The peduncle is green with purple spots, and with brown hairs covering the surface. The flowers can be up to 10.5 cm in diameter and are spotted purple-crimson inside the lip, which is in the form of a large, rounded pouch.  

Threats and conservation

This species is rated by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as Endangered, and has in the past been collected from the wild in large numbers. Its limited geographical range, and popularity in cultivation, mean it is vulnerable to over-collection. Like all species of Paphiopedilum, it is listed on CITES Appendix I, meaning that trade in wild collected plants is prohibited.


Uses The large yellow flowers and attractive marbled leaves make Paphiopedilum armeniacum a highly sought-after ornamental plant. Commercial orchid growers have produced several inter-specific and inter-generic hybrids using this species.

Cultivation Paphiopedilum armeniacum is relatively easy to cultivate, but needs a dryish winter period (misted only), alongside increased light intensity, to encourage flowering. It thrives in strong, diffused light and cool, moist air at 60 to 80% relative humidity. Plants should be kept moist whilst actively growing. The use of fertiliser should be reduced, or halted, during the rest period. This species produces new shoots at the end of a long rhizome, which should be borne in mind when potting up plants. This orchid has been awarded First Class Certificates by, amongst others, the American Orchid Society and Royal Horticultural Society.


This species at Kew Paphiopedilum armeniacum hybrids can sometimes be seen in the Princess of Wales Conservatory during the annual Tropical Extravaganza festival, held in February and March.


References and Credits

Braem, G.J., Baker, C.O. & Baker, M.L. (1998). The Genus Paphiopedilum. Botanical Publishers Inc. Cribb, P. (1998). The Genus Paphiopedilum (2nd Edition). Natural History Publications (Borneo). Hennessy, E.F. & Hedge, T.A. (1989). The Slipper Orchids. Acorn Books. Perner, H. (1999). The bitter sea turns sweet: Paphiopedilum armeniacum in its natural habitat. Orchid Dig. 63(1): 27-30. Kew Science Editor: Phil Cribb
Copy editing: Emma Tredwell While every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, the notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions.  

Additional Information



From Akatsuka Orchid Gardens 


Care Instructions for Paphiopedilum

By Jack Tonkin

PDF Printable Version

More than 60 species of Paphiopedilum (paf-ee-oh-PED-i-lum) are found in nature from the high hills of northern India to the lowlands of the Philippines. Magnificent orchids, the paphiopedilums have long been a major part of most collections. A fascinating array of colors and forms and their ease of culture have attracted lifelong admirers.

The relatively recent discovery of several striking species in China, such as the butter-yellow Paphiopedilum armeniacum, has sparked unusual excitement among orchid collectors. 

All paphiopedilums are characterized by a cuplike lip, called the pouch, and by a prominent dorsal sepal. They are often called lady’s-slipper orchids, which refers to the shape of the pouch. The plants are primarily terrestrial, although some, like Paphiopedilum lowii, may be found growing epiphytically (on trees) or lithophytically (on rocks). They are dwarf to moderate in size, with leaves which are stiff, waxy, or leathery and range from glossy green to superbly mottled. The leaves usually form a fan-shaped tuft. From the center of each new growth an erect scape arises bearing one or more flowers. A few Paphiopedilum species – glaucophyllum, stonei and rothschildianum – may produce up to six flowers simultaneously. Mostly the flowers are 2 to 5 inches across in an incredible variety and mixture of colors, lasting perfectly on the plant for six weeks or more. While their blooming season is primarily from mid-autumn through spring, this rule is not absolute. Many modern hybrids flower twice or more each year.

Paphiopedilums are divided into two cultural groups: The warm-growing, mottled-leaved types, like the famous Paphiopedilum Maudiae (ideal for beginners), and the cool-growing, green-leaved types. Ideally, the mottled-leaved paphiopedilums need Cattleya-like temperatures, while the green-leaved paphiopedilums grow very well in the company of cymbidiums. All paphioedilums require reasonably cool nights, particularly in the spring when they are setting their buds for the autumn flowering season. Although this requirement makes them difficult to grow in warm areas, their low light requirement does make it possible to keep them cool through shading. Hence both the mottled-leaved and the green-leaved paphiopedilums may be grown almost side by side, although not to the same perfection as they would be were they in growing areas with environments tailored to their specific needs.

Temperature and Humidity- The green-leaved types ideally require a minimum night temperature around 50 to 55 F, while the mottled-leaved types need 60 to 65 F at night. Day temperatures should range between 70 F and 80 F, although short periods of moderately higher or lower temperatures will not injure the plants. The humidity should be moderate, between 40 and 50 percent during the day.

Light- Paphiopedilums enjoy medium light intensity, requiring 800 to 1,000 foot-candles throughout the year for optimum growth. Avoid direct sun, except in the early morning. In the home, move plants back from the window at the height of the noonday sun or, ideally, grow them behind a sheer curtain.

Air Movement- Moist, vigorous air movement, at a temperature favorable to the plants, is highly recommended to keep the leaves cool and to dry drops of water on the plants, thereby reducing chances of disease. Hot or cold drafts cause buds to blast (brown and die). Consider the position of the plants, especially those on a windowsill.

Watering- Although paphiopedilums are sympodial orchids, they do not possess pseudobulbs and hence, like phalaenopsis, must have a regular and constant water supply. This will entail keeping the medium moist but not wet, a technique with which beginners will have to experiment in order to perfect. Water early in the day so that the foliage will dry before temperatures drop at nightfall.

Paphiopedilums typically need watering every five to seven days, but individual conditions require some variance. The potting mix, the humidity surrounding the plants and weather conditions all affect the rate at which plants dry and thus require water.

For those growers using bark as a potting medium, it is extremely important not to permit the plant to dry completely because it is then difficult to rewet. Water will channel through the dry mix leaving most of the pot dry. When this happens, submerge the whole pot and mix in a pan of water until moisture has been restored to the pot.

Fertilizing- Feed plants in fir bark with a high-nitrogen fertilizer (30-10-20 or 30-10-10 ratio) at half of the recommended strength. Fertilize greenhouse-grown plants three times and then apply plain water for the fourth watering to leach out any salts that have accumulated. For home or windowsill growing, alternate fertilizer and plain water. Plants grown in some of the more complicated mixes consisting of rock, peat, oak leaf mold, etc., should receive fertilizer at a more reduced strength because some of these elements may provide nutrients or may be soured by a high nitrogen fertilizer at full strength.

Potting- Because most paphiopedilums are terrestrial, a medium that drains well but retains moisture is necessary. Straight fir bark is excellent. Finely chopped fir bark (1/8 inch to ¼ inch) is preferable to the medium or large chunks used for cattleyas and phalaenopsis. Wet the bark thoroughly before potting any type of orchid in it.

Paphiopedilums grow easily into specimen plants because, with good culture, they branch freely and regularly. Since paphiopedilums are capable of producing flowers on rootless growths, particular care in watering must be taken in growing a specimen plant in order to provide the lovely display of blooms with a healthy, extended root system. Repot paphiopedilums when the medium has decomposed, the plant has outgrown its pot or when it is appropriate to divide the plant. Although many paphiopedilums will live when divided into single growths with roots, it is preferable to make divisions of no fewer than three growths. Repot and divide immediately following flowering.

The procedures for repotting entail clipping off dead roots, positioning the plant in the new container and filling in and around the roots with the compost medium until it reaches just slightly over the base of the plant. Do not bury the plant growths because this encourages rot. The base of each growth should be touching the potting medium to encourage new roots to grow into the medium. Keep watering to a minimum until evidence of new growth is apparent. Place recently potted paphiopedilums in a shaded area, then move gradually into proper light conditions once new growth begins.

Reprinted from Growing Orchids, a culture handbook published by the American Orchid Society. To receive a free colorful brochure about this wonderful hobby and to learn more about growing orchids, contact the


American Orchid Society
16700 AOS Lane, Delray Beach, Florida 33446-4351 * Tel 561-404-2000 * Fax 561-404-2100
Email: * Website:




From The IUCN List of Endangered Species


Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family











Scientific Name: Paphiopedilum armeniacum
Species Authority: S.C.Chen & F.Y.Liu
Common Name(s):
English Apricot Orange Paphiopedilum
Paphiopedilum armeniacum S.C.Chen & F.Y.Liu subspecies markii O.Gruss
Paphiopedilum armeniacum S.C.Chen & F.Y.Liu subspecies parviflorum Z.J.Liu & J.Yong Zhang
Paphiopedilum armeniacum S.C.Chen & F.Y.Liu subspecies undulatum Z.J.Liu & J.Yong Zhang


Assessment Information
Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2acd+3cd+4acd; B1ab(ii,iii,v)+2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2010-12-01
Assessor(s): Rankou, H. & Averyanov, L.
Reviewer(s): Fay, M.
Global assessment: Endangered (EN) Paphiopedilum armeniacum is very rare and local with three disjunct fragmented subpopulations and a restricted distribution in a river valley in Yunnan, China. There has been a population reduction of 75-80% in the last three generations and a decline of 75-80% is projected to continue in the next three generations. The population trend is decreasing due to many threats, including habitat destruction, logging, fires, deforestation, ruthless collection for horticultural purposes, and regional and international trade. The estimated extent of occurrence of the species is 50-100 km2, the estimated area of occupancy of the species is 12 km2 and there is a continuing decline in the number of mature individuals and the quality of the habitat in all three locations. Therefore, Paphiopedilum armeniacum is assessed as Endangered (EN).
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Endangered (EN)
1998 Endangered (E)
Geographic Range
Range Description: Paphiopedilum armeniacum is found in southern China (west Yunnan, along Nu Jiang River valley) between 1,400 and 2,250 m asl. It is known from three localities, which are very close to each other between Shidian county Weixi county (Braem 1988, Braem et al. 1998, Braem and Chiron 2003, Cavestro 2001, Cribb 1987, Cribb 1998, Koopowitz 2008, Liu et al. 2009). The area of occupancy (AOO) is 12 km2 and the extent of occurrence (EOO) is 50-100 km2. There are three locations.
Countries occurrence:
China (Yunnan)
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 12
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 50-100
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 3
Lower elevation limit (metres): 1400
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2250
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.
Population: The current population size cannot be estimated but this species is thought to be very rare. There are only a few disjunct findings in southern China with very small, highly depleted subpopulations in each known locality. There has been a population reduction of 75-80% in the last three generations and a decline of 75-80% is projected to continue in the next three generations.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: Yes
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in rocky and well-drained places or in crevices between rocks on woody or bushy slopes in limestone areas. It is a perennial, rosulate stoloniferous herb with vertical stems of one to three centimetres tall (Braem 1988, Braem et al. 1998, Braem and Chiron 2003, Cavestro 2001, Cribb 1987, Cribb 1998, Koopowitz 2008, Liu et al. 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 7-8
Use and Trade
Paphiopedilum armeniacum is collected commercially as an ornamental plant and is in high demand.
The main threats are the destruction of the habitat through logging, fires and deforestation, and collection of the plant for the ornamental trade.
Conservation Actions
All orchid species are included under Annex B of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). All Paphiopedilum species are listed on Appendix I of CITES. However, the following actions are recommended to protect Paphiopedilum armeniacum:
  • Field explorations are needed to find potential additional localities.
  • Organization and appropriate management of protected areas.
  • Propagation and repatriation of plants into native habitats.
  • Cultivated specimens should be used in the trade instead of wild plants as the species is easy to grow.
  • Protection of the habitat, especially from collection, trampling and deforestation.
  • Monitoring programs are needed to track the status of existing subpopulations with respect to ongoing management practices.
  • Protection of the living individuals of the species through legislation and legal protection which ban individuals from picking up or digging up the species.
  • Ex situ conservation: Artificial propagation, re-introduction, seed collections.
  • Monitoring and surveillance of the existing subpopulations and sites.
  • Estimate the subpopulation sizes and study their dynamics.

Citation: Rankou, H. & Averyanov, L. 2015. Paphiopedilum armeniacum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T46695A3010661. . Downloaded on 21 September 2015.




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