ghost orchid

Three Birds Orchid, Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora)

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:   Epidendroideae -
                    Tribe:   Triphoreae - Triphora tribe.
                      Subtribe:   Triphorinae - Triphora subtribe.


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Three Birds Orchid, Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora)
Description:
Summary: Small perennial herbs with purple stems and small, fingernail-sized green leaves. Flowers open a single morning (with all members of a population blooming synchronously), pale pink with green crests on the lip. Over the blooming period, many flowers will be produced sequentially.

Common Name: Three Birds Orchid, Nodding Pogonia

Habitat: Semi-dry woodlands, often found near the bases of hardwood trees.

Flowering season: August through December

Images:
 
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower in profile.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower in profile.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - plants in situ.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - plants in situ.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower closeup.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower closeup.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower closeup.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower closeup.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower closeup with possible pollinator.
Three-birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora) - flower closeup with possible pollinator.

Description:
 

This orchid is seldom seen, even in areas that it calls home, owing to the fact that it is small and inconspicuous. It is perhaps easiest seen when in flower, but that itself is a once-in-awhile affair, as each member of a population flowers at the same exact time for just one morning. Those who are not fortunate enough to catch this flush of blooms will see either the after-effects of a blooming--wilted flowers--or the prequel to the same--a number of eager buds waiting for some unknown environmental trigger that will encourage the final maturation of the bud into an open flower.

The Three Birds Orchid owes its name to the fact that robust plants can present up to three open flowers at once, each flower tilted upward like the maw of a small, hungry bird. A robust plant will also have many bloomings over a season, with new batches of buds unfurling from the newest leaves to emerge from the growing tip.

Plants tend to congregate near the bases of trees...it is theorized that the mycorrhizal fungus that supplies this species with nutrients also infects tree roots, thus allowing the orchid to indirectly parasitize nearby trees.

Return to the Gallery of Native Orchids


Copyright © 2008 Prem Subrahmanyam, All Rights Reserved.
No Text or Images from this web site may be used, in whole or in part, without the express permission of the author.
For further information, see the Terms of Use page.