ghost orchid

Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)

Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids Website

Classification:
  Kingdom:   Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom:   Tracheobionta - Vascular Plants
      Superdivision:   Spermatophyta - Seed plants
        Division:   Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
          Class:   Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
            Subclass:   Liliidae - Subclass containing lily and orchid relatives
              Order:   Orchidales - Orchid order
                Family:   Orchidaceae - Orchid Family
                  Subfamily:   Orchidiodeae -
                    Tribe:   Orchideae - Orchidoids.
                      Subtribe:   Orchidinae - Orchis and related.


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Description:
Summary: Erect, terrestrial herbs with medium-green leaves. Seedlings form a basal rosette flush against the ground. Mature plants with leaves ascending up the stem. Spidery white-green flowers with medium-length nectaries/spurs descending from the back.

Common Name: Michaux's Orchid

Habitat: hardwood hammocks; pine flatwoods; roadside ditches; semi-moist, open scrub

Flowering season: August through January

Images:
 
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)
Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)

Description:
 

Late summer (in the north) into midwinter (in the southernmost counties) is the blooming season for this striking species. The plants themselves resemble other woodland Habenarias (H. odontopetala, for instance) when not in flower. Once the flowers open, this species (and the related H. macroceratitis) is unmistakable. The flower structure resembles that of H. repens, but the spidery petals span around 1.5 inches (3.7cm) across even with their curled tips, which is two-to-three times as large.

Just as with H. repens, upon first glance, the floral structure of the flowers can be confusing...there appear to be eight floral parts. Orchids follow the basic plan of three sepals and three petals in varying shapes (although sometimes parts can become fused into combined floral structures). Closer examination solves the puzzle: the petals are deeply bilobed, which is rather unusual among orchids. The upper lobe hugs the margin of the dorsal sepal and the lower lobe curves out and upward. The lip is deeply trilobed, with two narrow side lobes and one thicker central lobe. A spur extends down from the rear of the lip, forming a narrow nectary filled with nectar at its very end. For a further discussion of Habenaria/Platanthera pollination strategies, see the Platanthera ciliaris page.

The large flowers for a Habenaria are arranged much more loosely than either H. repens or H. odontopetala. They do, however, share the quality of being evening/night fragrant, which undoubtedly attracts night-flying moths to the flowers as their pollinator.

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