Tipularia discolor

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Crane-fly Orchid
Cranefly orchid.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Calypsoeae
Genus: Tipularia
Species: T. discolor
Binomial name
Tipularia discolor
(Pursh) Nuttall[1]
  • Orchis discolor Pursh
  • Plectrurus discolor (Pursh) Raf.
  • Tipularia unifolia Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.
  • Limodorum unifolium Muhl.

The Crane-fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) is a perennial terrestrial woodland orchid, a member of the Orchidaceae.[1] It is the only species of the genus Tipularia found in North America. It occurs in the southeastern United States from Texas to Florida, the range extending north into the Ohio Valley and long the Appalachians as far north as the Catskills. There are also isolated populations in Massachusetts and in the Great Lakes region.[3][4]

Tipularia discolor grows a single leaf in September that disappears in the spring. The leaf is green with dark purple spots. The flower blooms in mid-July to late August. The roots are a connected series of corms. Its roots are edible. They are starchy and almost potato-like.

The plant is pollinated by noctuid moths, by means of flowers which incline slightly to the right or left, so the pollinaria can attach to one of the moth's eyes.[5]

Cranefly orchids are endangered, threatened, or rare in several states.[6]


  1. ^ a b Justice, William S.; Bell, C. Ritchie; Lindsey, Anne H. (2005). Wild Flowers of North Carolina (2. printing. ed.). Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press. p. 156. ISBN 0807855979. 
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Flora of North America v 26 p 624, Tipularia discolor
  4. ^ Biota of North America Program, county distribution map
  5. ^ "Tipularia discolor". Flora of North America. 
  6. ^ Tipularia discolor (Pursh) Nutt., USDA PLANTS
  • Homoya, Michael A. Orchids of Indiana. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32864-0. 

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