IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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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.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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