Rhizome horizontal, densely covered with roots. Usually strong momentum, straight. Foliage spiral or, in some species, opposite. Leaves are usually a few, rarely two and then most often with a shortened internode: jajowate, obovate to lanceolate, with parallel to fan-shaped nervousness. Inflorescence usually 1-3, and in some subtropical species, even a 12-flower. The flowers are usually large. A baggy or shoal lip, bloated. The upper outer petal is positioned above it, both side - in most species fused together - protect the lip from the rear. Side inner petals widely spread, often twisted in a spiral. Massive column. Both lateral stamens of the inner whorl are fertile, the middle stamen of the outer whorl transformed into a large one, discoid staminodium. Birthmark on the elongated neck, big, massive, fertile all three of his patches.
The genus has approx 35 species growing in the northern hemisphere. Most of them are found in East Asia and the eastern part of North America. In Europe, footwear is represented by only three species: slipper (Cypripedium calceolus L.), C. guttatum Sw. and C.. macranthos Sw. The first one covers the whole of Central Europe, North and East and Asia, C. guttatum grows from Belarus through Siberia to North America, and C.. macrantlios is known from Ukraine and North Asia. Cypripedium macrantlios flowers differ from the common flowers, e.g.. intensely red. C. guttatum is distinguished from both of these species by the shape of the lip.
These species can be found in various types of forests, in meadows and peat bogs, in the tundra, and even in the alpine floor of the Himalayas, on both acidic and poor soils, as well as fertile, nawapiennych.
The biology of pollination of shoe flowers has long aroused the interest of botanists. They are an example of trap flowers that are rare in our flora. The lip of our footwear resembles a shoe. Its edges are rolled inwards and strongly waxed. There are small ones in the base part, transparent tissue fragments, the so-called. windows, through which the light shines into the flower. Inside the lip, lines of white hairs bent towards the base and rows of red spots run along the nerves. The flowers exude strong, nice smell, reminiscent of vanilla and lemon, but they do not produce nectar. The hair inside the lip does contain oils, but not found, that insects eat them. The pollination is done by ordinary lone Andrena bees, Lasioglossum i Halictus. The most common visitors are male Andrena haemorhoa. The red spots inside the lip act as false trails leading into the nectar – they encourage insects to visit the flower. The smell is an additional incentive, which resembles pheromones, that is, chemical compounds that stimulate the activity of male insects. After landing on the lip, the insect begins its journey inside, sliding down its waxed edge at some point, it falls inside. The only way out of the trap is indicated by "nectar trails", Italian and light shining through the "windows". The insect travels to the base of the lip, rubbing against the big ones first, discoid birthmark. After passing it, he has two paths to choose from. Regardless of, which will go, will be caked with a waxy pollen mass. This sequence of "passing" through the generative structures of the flower prevents self-pollination. By visiting the next plant, the insect will leave pollen collected from the previous one on the stigma, thereby making pollination. Of course, it will also take the next batch of pollen on its way. But let's think, or being inside the lip, the insect must pollinate the flower? Can he not get out of it the same way, which he entered or rather fell into? It all depends on the size of the animal. Observed, that the smaller ones are free to fly out of the flower without any pollen, bigger – no. The barrier is here big, discoid staminodium, directed towards the inside of the lip. Because squeezing through the generative structures of an orchid requires strength and energy, it happens, that some of the weaker and smaller insects die, trapped between the stamen and birthmark and the lip.