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Common Name: Nerve Root
Cypripedium acaule is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.40 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine..
Contact with the fresh plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[
]. Hairs on the leaves can cause a rash similar to poison ivy rash in some people[
Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Nebraska, south to Mississippi and Alabama.
Usually found in the higher and dryer parts of coniferous woods, often in a thin layer of pine needles over rocks[
], it is also sometimes found in bogs and wet places[
Requires a position in semi-shade on a damp acid soil that is rich in humus[
]. Plants grow well in a woodland garden or shady border[
Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid[
Resents root disturbance[
A very ornamental plant[
], it is quite difficult in cultivation and plants will often flower well in their first year then disappear[
]. This is possibly because the plants are sold bare-rooted and do not have the necessary fungal symbiant they need in order to thrive[
]. Only buy pot-grown plants in order to try and ensure that the symbiant is present[
The plants are subject to damage by slugs[
The root is antispasmodic, nervine, sedative, tonic[
]. It is said to be the equivalent of Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, in treating nervous complaints, sleeplessness etc[
]. The roots have also been used in the treatment of menstrual disorders, stomach aches, kidney and urinary tract disorders and venereal disease[
]. An infusion of the dried tuber is used, the tubers are harvested in the autumn[
]. The active ingredients are not water-soluble[
Seed - surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil[
]. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move.
Division with care in early spring, the plants resent disturbance[
]. Remove part of the original rootball with the soil intact[
Division is best carried out towards the end of the growing season, since food reserves are fairly evenly distributed through the rhizome[
]. Small divisions of a lead and two buds, or divisions from the back (older) part of the rhizome without any developed buds, establish quickly using this method[
]. Replant immediately in situ[