BEMIDJI -- Even though it's the state flower, the showy lady's slipper is not one many stumble upon often. And even more unusual: seeing a cluster of up to 50 blooms all in one spot.
This group of lady's slippers are situated along the southwest end of Movil Lake on Kermit and Sandy Bensen's land. Kermit said they typically see around 40-50 blooms on the plants every summer. The couple keeps a small fence around the area to help protect them from being eaten by deer.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the state has regulated the collection and commercial sale of the species since 1925. The showy lady's slipper is one of 43 orchid species that grow in Minnesota.
Lady's slippers generally take four to 16 years to produce their first bloom, with blooms typically occurring in late June to mid-July. Each year, the lady's slipper may produce a half-million seeds, which are as fine as flour dust. The flower has a long life span; some even live to be 100 years old, according to the DNR.
The University of Minnesota says one of the best places to view lady's slippers is along the Lady’s Slipper Scenic Byway between Cass Lake and Blackduck.
As you're viewing these iconic blooms, remember to respect and protect the flowers as you go, being careful not to disturb them.