Showy Orchis

Galearis spectabilis is the Showy Orchis!

This orchid miraculously appears on the forest floor in April and May in Virginia.  It likes limey soils like we have here in Montgomery County, and it is often found on the edges of swampy terrain.  This week it is coming up on the hillside at my house and near the stream at my neighbor, Mary’s, house. I have her to thank for most of these photos!

The oval to oblong leaves of Showy Orchis
The oblong leaves of Showy Orchis

The plant has two oblong to round leaves that come up first.  Within a week, the stalk of flowers appears with white buds.  When open, the pink and white or purple and white flowers are  about 1 inch long; usually there are several flowers to a stalk. These are truly woodland jewels, so be careful not to tread on them as you make your way through the forest! Showy orchis is a small plant, growing only 6 to 12 inches in height.

Click any photo below to open the viewer. Then raise a glass to this spectacular local wildflower!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. John Cousins says:

    I’m putting my Appalachian Wildflower Guide back on the bookshelf and using your website for future help with identification! What a wonderful resource you have created! I stumbled across this Showy Orchis in the GW National Forest in Amherst County and used your website with photos to identify it. Thanks very much!

    1. gloria says:

      Thanks, John! I’m so glad you were able to use it!

  2. sue copper says:

    Ditto the above comment. I found this little flower in our woods just yesterday and couldn’t identify it until I found your site. Wonderful!! Thank you! There was only one of these plants that I could see, hope it multiplies!

    1. gloria says:

      I have a few on my property and they haven’t bloomed yet. Looking forward to seeing their happy faces!

  3. Like your photos!
    There are a few in our area—please see
    Showy Orchis, Howard County, 5-4-14

  4. Lorraine Roberts says:

    I had one last year, but have not found it this year; can I expect it to be there again?

    1. Gloria says:

      Hi Lorraine,
      The Showy Orchis is a perennial wildflower so assuming the ground was not disturbed (digging, etc.), you should expect to see it again. Hope you do!

  5. chateaudesilling says:

    The mother lode for these things is the Potts Mountain Rail Trail over the line in WV. We started at the entrance just over the border, and started seeing these within 100′ or so of starting down the trail. I stood in one spot and counted well over 50 plants within my visual field. There were perhaps a thousand or so in all, all in bloom on the same day. I don’t remember when the day was. Maybe on the tail end of redbud season. Before the wisteria had bloomed. Late April?

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