ghost orchid

Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)

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:   Malaxideae - Malaxids
                      Subtribe:   Malaxidinae - Malaxis and related


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Description:
Summary: Plants terrestrial, consisting of a single, round leaf. Flower stem a raceme with numerous (up to 100) green, nearly microscopic flowers with a sharply bilobed lip. Flowering stems start very compact, lengthening over time as the flowers are borne sequentially over several months' time.

Common Name: Green Adder's Mouth

Habitat: Semi-dry, mesic mixed pine/hardwood forests.

Flowering season: February through May (peaking in April)

Images:
 
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)
Green Adder's Mouth (Malaxis unifolia)

Description:
 

These diminutive orchids are seldom seen in Florida, with their single leaves blending in quite nicely with the surrounding vegetation. Not all plants in a colony will flower. Those that do will produce a single flowering stem from within the leaf's axil.

The tiny flowers, only about 4mm across, start out in a raceme with a very compact top, the bud arrangement resembling a minute, green pine cone. As the raceme lengthens, individual flowers will open sequentially over a long period of time. Each flower has a deeply bilobed lip, giving the impression of a pair of tiny fangs (hence the common name of Adder's Mouth). It requires a good hand lens or an extremely good macro lens to appreciate the tiny flowers in all their microscopic glory.

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