Tipularia discolor (Pursh) Nutt.

cranefly orchid

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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

Cranefly orchid is a rare orchid found in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and in the southeastern states. The underside of the single leaf is purple, and it does not persist until flowering. The somewhat asymmetrical flowers of this species are pollinated by noctuid moths, the flower depositing a pollinarium (pollen mass) on either the left or right compound eye of the moth, depending on which way the column is twisted.

Habitat

Forests, wetland margins (edges of wetlands), woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
Massachusetts
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
  • blue to purple
  • green to brown
  • pink to red
  • yellow
Nectar spur
the flower has at least one nectar spur on it
Inflorescence type
the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
Lower petal characteristics
  • the labellum has spurs on it
  • the labellum is lobed
Lower petal length
5–8 mm
Sepal length
5–8 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Flower petal color
    • green
    • pink
    • purple
    • yellow
    Flower symmetry
    there is no way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is asymmetrical)
    Flowering date
    • August
    • July
    • June
    • September
    Flowers per inflorescence
    5–55
    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
    80–280 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 narrowed base of lower petal
    0 mm
    Length of peduncle
    200–500 mm
    Lobes at base of lower petal
    0 mm
    Lower petal characteristics
    • the labellum has spurs on it
    • the labellum is lobed
    Lower petal length
    5–8 mm
    Lower petal outline
    the labellum is lobed but not fringed
    Lower petal strongly red-veined
    no
    Main color of lower petal
    • blue to purple
    • green to brown
    • pink to red
    • yellow
    Nectar spur
    the flower has at least one nectar spur on it
    Nectar spur length
    10–23 mm
    Number of stamens
    1
    Orientation of side petals
    the lateral petals slant outward
    Self-pollinating flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on this plant
    Sepal length
    5–8 mm
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spots on lower petal
    no
    Spur opening membrane
    there is no membrane over the spur opening
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit length
    9–12 mm
    Fruit width
    4–5 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
    50–105 mm
    Leaf blade length to width ratio
    1.5–2
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly 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
    25–70 mm
    Leaves during flowering
    there are no leaves on the plant when it is flowering
    Number of bracts on stem
    0
    Number of leaves on stem
    absent
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    Massachusetts
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • woodlands

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

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

Synonyms

  • Tipularia unifolia B.S.P.

Family

Orchidaceae

Genus

Tipularia

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Tipularia discolor (Pursh) Nutt. NC

cranefly orchid. Tipularia unifolia B.S.P. • MA; Cape Cod region. Deciduous forests and woodlands on sandy soils, often near upland edge of swamps and ponds.