Aplectrum hyemale (Muhl. ex Willd.) Nutt.

putty-root

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Putty-root, although considered globally secure, is rare throughout much of its range, and very rare in New England. It has been collected in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. The corms were used by the Cherokee as a dietary aid to "endow children with the gift of eloquence". The mucilaginous exudate of the crushed corms was also used by early settlers as a glue to repair pottery.

Habitat

Forests, swamps

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Number of leaves on stem
absent
Form of lower petal
the labellum does not have a pouch-like shape
Lower petal outline
the labellum is lobed but not fringed
Main color of lower petal
  • white
  • yellow
Nectar spur
there are no nectar spurs on the flower
Inflorescence type
the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
Lower petal characteristics
the labellum is lobed
Lower petal length
9–12 mm
Sepal length
10–15 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Flower bract length
    3–7 mm
    Flower petal color
    • brown
    • green
    • purple
    • red
    • yellow
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Flowering date
    • June
    • May
    Flowers per inflorescence
    7–15
    Form of lower petal
    the labellum does not have a pouch-like shape
    Hairs on inflorescence axis
    the main stem of the inflorescence is hairless
    Inflorescence length
    50–100 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Labellum position
    the labellum is in the lower position on the flower
    Length of peduncle
    250–600 mm
    Lobes at base of lower petal
    0 mm
    Lower petal characteristics
    the labellum is lobed
    Lower petal length
    9–12 mm
    Lower petal outline
    the labellum is lobed but not fringed
    Lower petal strongly red-veined
    no
    Main color of lower petal
    • white
    • yellow
    Nectar spur
    there are no nectar spurs on the flower
    Nectar spur length
    0 mm
    Number of stamens
    1
    Orientation of side petals
    the lateral petals are vertically oriented or nearly so
    Self-pollinating flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on this plant
    Sepal length
    10–15 mm
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spots on lower petal
    yes
    Spur opening membrane
    NA
    Spur opening shape
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit length
    7–12 mm
    Seed capsule orientation
    the capsule bends downwards or hangs downwards
  • Growth form
    Plant green or not
    the plant is chlorophyllous (it has green parts)
    Roots
    the rhizomes do not resemble coral
    Underground organs
    • the plant has one or more swollen storage organs underground, such as bulbs, tubers or corms
    • there are only slender roots on the plant
    • this plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bract relative length
    the bract is shorter than the associated flower
    Features of leaves
    • the leaf is pleated or folded back and forth along its length
    • the underside of the leaf is strongly tinted with pink, red, purple or reddish brown
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade edges
    the edges of the leaf blade have no teeth
    Leaf blade length
    100–200 mm
    Leaf blade length to width ratio
    2.5–3.3
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acuminate (tapers to a long, thin point)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf blade width
    30–80 mm
    Leaves during flowering
    • there are leaves on the plant when it is flowering
    • there are no leaves on the plant when it is flowering
    Number of bracts on stem
    2–3
    Number of leaves on stem
    absent
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • swamps

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
historical (S-rank: SH), special concern, extirpated (code: SC*)
Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Vermont
historical (S-rank: SH), threatened (code: T)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Tipularia discolor:
labellum with a spur, lacking magenta spots, and capsules 9-12 mm long (vs. A. hyemale, with the labellum without a spur, usually provided with magenta spots, and capsules 15-30 mm long).

Synonyms

  • Cymbidium hyemale Muhl. ex Willd.

Family

Orchidaceae

Genus

Aplectrum

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Aplectrum hyemale (Muhl. ex Willd.) Nutt. NC

putty-root. Cymbidium hyemale Muhl. ex Willd. • CT, MA, VT. Mesic to wet-mesic, deciduous, sometime rocky, forests.