IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

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Description

This native perennial orchid is 1-3' tall and unbranched. The central stem is light green and glabrous. Along this stem, there are 2-5 alternate leaves up to 8" long and 2" across; these leaves become smaller in size as they ascend the stem and they are held more or less upright. The leaf blades are light to medium green, lanceolate-oblong to narrowly ovate, and smooth along their margins; their veins are parallel. The central stem terminates in an elongated raceme of flowers about 3-8" long and 2½" across. The flowers are arranged somewhat densely all around the central stalk of the raceme, blooming from the bottom to the top. The flowers are usually bright rose-purple and less often pale rose-purple. Each flower is about 1" long and ¾" across, consisting of 3 petal-like sepals, 3 petals, the reproductive organs, and a nectar spur in the back (about 1" long) that nods downward. The upper sepal and two upper petals (about ¼" long) form a small hood (upper lip) above the reproductive organs. The lowest petal forms the lower lip of the flower (about ¾" long); it is deeply divided into 3 fan-shaped lobes that are barely fringed along their lower margins. The central lobe of the lower lip is larger than the lateral lobes; it usually has a small narrow notch in the middle of its lower margin. The lower sepals are about 1/3" long and form the sides of the flower; they extend further back than either the hood or the lower lip. Each flower has a stout ascending pedicel about 1" long. At the base of each pedicel, there is an ascending small bract (about ¾" long) that resembles a narrow leaf. The blooming period occurs during mid- to late summer and lasts about 3 weeks. Fertile flowers are replaced by erect seed capsules about ½–¾" long that are ellipsoid in shape. The capsules split open to release numerous tiny seeds that are dispersed by the wind. The root system consists of fleshy fibrous roots.

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Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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