Three Birds Orchid or Nodding Pogonia

Here’s an updated post on Three Birds Orchid! I was happy to find it in bloom this year!

VIRGINIA WILDFLOWERS

Triphora trianthophora

IMG_5198 Flowering colony of Three Birds Orchid

Last summer, in the month of August, I discovered the diminutive Three Birds Orchid on a mulched path in my neighbor’s garden. I went straight home to look it up in my field guide, since I never encountered it before.

The common name, Three Birds Orchid, is intriguing. Apparently the orchid often bears three pale flowers on one stem and they vaguely resemble little birds in flight.

Rising only three to eight inches in height, Three Birds Orchid has succulent,purplish-green stems and small, alternate, ovate leavesthat clasp the stems. 

The flowers arise from the upper leaf axils and are pink to white. Each flower (only about 1/2 inch wide) bears 3 white sepals that spread open, exposing a hood composed of 2 white petals covering a three-lobed lip petal (or labellum). If you get down on your knees…

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