"Paphiopedilum species naturally occur among humus layers as terrestrials on the forest floor, while a few are true epiphytes and some are lithophytes. These sympodial orchids lack pseudobulbs. Instead, they grow robust shoots, each with several leaves; some are hemicryptophytes. The leaves can be short and rounded or long and narrow, and typically have a mottled pattern. When older shoots die, newer ones take over. Each new shoot only blooms once when it is fully grown, producing a raceme between the fleshy, succulent leaves. The roots are thick and fleshy. Potted plants form a tight lump of roots that, when untangled, can be up to 1 m long.
Members of this genus are considered highly collectible by orchid fanciers due to the curious and unusual form of their flowers. Along with Cypripedium, Mexipedium, Phragmipedium and Selenipedium, the genus is a member of the subfamily Cypripedioideae, commonly referred to as the "lady's-slippers" or "slipper orchids" due to the unusual shape of the pouch-like labellum of the flower. The pouch traps insects seeking nectar, and to leave again they have to climb up past the staminode, behind which they collect or deposit pollinia. The orchid, despite several attempts to clone by tissue culture, has never been successfully cloned, for unknown reasons. This means every plant is unique."