Cranefly Orchid

 

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aka elfin spur
Tipularia discolor
Orchidaceae

 

 

You may recall that I’m a little over the moon about orchids, and especially about cranefly orchid.  I know of three distinct patches near each other in one of my usual hunting areas, and I keep an eye on those areas year ’round.

Some time late this spring, I noticed that all the leaves had gone.  It seemed a little early for their annual disappearing act, but I’m not an expert so I shrugged it off and kept watching.

By the last week in July I was getting concerned.  The flower stalks should have been up, and at least in bud if not in bloom.  What was going on?  Did I miss the flowering altogether?  Were they poached?!

This happened with the puttyroot orchid, too.  I know exactly where to find two plants.  All I saw of them this spring was last year’s stalk with seed pods still on it.

I was feeling mighty bad about this.  Not at the thought that I might have missed them, but at the thought that something happened to them and they were gone forever.

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Then, one morning a few days later, in a completely unexpected place, something caught my eye: a single stem of this delicate, easy-to-miss wonder.

 

 

I admit, I literally fell to my knees with a sigh.

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Cranefly orchids grow a single hibernal leaf that dies before the plant flowers in mid summer.  It can be common in parts of its range, which extends from the the upper mid-Atlantic south through Florida and Texas, but is rare in Pennsylvania, threatened in Florida and Michigan, and endangered in Massachusetts and New York.

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2 thoughts on “Cranefly Orchid

  1. Pingback: Flowering Spurge | Elizabeth's Wildflower Blog

  2. Pingback: Orchid Update: New Hope | Elizabeth's Wildflower Blog

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