Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cranefly Orchid in Winter

Seed pod of Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Seed pod of Cranefly Orchid
Though not in bloom, the observant hiker can still enjoy the Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) in winter. This rustic-looking member of the orchid family blooms in late summer and is rarely noticed even then because its flowers are easily lost in the dappled light of the shady summer forest floor (see bottom 2 pictures). Indeed, this orchid may be most easily noticed in winter by its leaves. The leaves of this plant come out in autumn and overwinter. They are then withered and gone by the time the plant flowers in late summer. Cranefly Orchid is probably most easily noticed if one of its winter leaves happen to be turned upside down exposing its purple underside to the hiker. If you happen to see these winter leaves on the forest floor, you might want to note its location and then keep an eye on it once we hit mid-July. If you do, you just might get to enjoy and know an orchid normally unnoticed.

Backside of Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) in winter
Underside of Cranefly Orchid leaf in winter

Winter leaf of Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Topside of Cranefly Orchid leave in winter. The leaves are
no longer present when the plant blooms in late summer.

Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Cranefly Orchid blooming in late summer
Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Cranefly Orchid in bloom

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