Florida Adder's Mouth (Malaxis spicata)
Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids WebsiteClassification:
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: Malaxideae - Malaxids
Subtribe: Malaxidinae - Malaxis and related
Summary: Terrestrial to semi-epiphytic herbs with two basal leaves and a slender spike of small (1/2 cm) green-to-orange flowers with the lip presented uppermost.
Common Name: Florida Adder's Mouth
Habitat: Terrestrial in swamps from central Florida into Virginia. Semi-epiphytic on floating logs and stumps in the extreme southern Florida swamps.
Flowering season: August through January (peaking in September)
Florida Adder's Mouth is somewhat of a misnomer for this species, as it is found from Florida along the eastern seaboard into Virginia, where it grows in exceedingly damp bottomlands and swamps.
In extreme southern Florida, these plants are found semi-epiphytically on tree stumps and floating logs.
Plants consist of two, or rarely three, leaves arising from a small pseudobulb. The flower spike emerges to bear many small, orange-tinted flowers sequentially over several months. Curiously, the ovary behind this flower twists through 360 degrees to present the lip uppermost (a trait known as a non-resupinate flower). Most orchid flowers will have a 180 degree twist that presents the flower with the lip lowermost (a resupinate flower).
Recently, my son Josh and I discovered a variegated-leaved form of this plant growing in Goethe State Forest, which was named M. spicata fma. variegata. A colleague discovered a form with pure green flowers, which was recently named as M. spicata fma. morganii after his daughter.
Copyright © 2008 Prem Subrahmanyam, All Rights Reserved.
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