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Red Listing of Cypripedium completed

The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species contains a complete listing of Cypripedium (temperate lady slipper orchids).
Photo of Cypripedium dickinsonianum (Photo by Dr Gerardo Salazar)

Hassan Rankou (Red List Authority, Orchid Specialist Group) at Kew and colleagues from North America and China have completed the Red Listing of the genus Cypripedium (one of five genera of slipper orchids, with 52 species) and the assessments have been published today in the latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Most slipper orchids require particular environments and are sensitive to environmental change and, as a result, many are severely threatened by habitat destruction (logging, deforestation etc.). In addition, climate change and intrinsic characteristics of the species could lead to near extinction in the wild.

Although all species of slipper orchid are protected under CITES Appendix I, which prohibits international trade without licensing, collection of these species is further fragmenting populations and preventing any natural recovery. The Red List assessments of the temperate lady slipper orchids Cypripedium for The IUCN Red List showed that 78% of species are threatened and only13% are of least concern (LC). In Cypripedium 8% of species are Critically Endangered (CR), 46% are Endangered (EN), 25 % are Vulnerable (VU).

The assessment of Cypripedium species is part of a larger project aimed at Red Listing all species of slipper orchids (the complete subfamily Cypripedioideae, with five genera and about 160 species) and publishing these on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species by the end of 2015.

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