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three birds orchid
Triphora trianthophora
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The name 'three birds' alludes to the trait of often blooming three flowers at a time on a stalk, with the pink or white flowers pointing upward like hungry baby birds.
This is one of the most interesting orchids of the area, in addition to being strikingly pretty. It is easily overlooked because the flowers are only open fully for one day. All the plants in a given area (sometimes said to cover several states) will blossom at the same time. There will be several flushes of blooms within a season, but the triggering mechanism for coordinated blooming has not been adequately explained. P8100009m.jpg 17.55 K
Most theories deal with cool nights or temperature differences between day and night, but even sheltered plants may bloom with others in the area. I have observed that cut buds kept in water in the house bloom on thesame as those in the woods a half-mile away.

Three birds orchids spend most of their lives underground and send up the succulent foliage only during blooming season. They may remain underground for years without blooming.


Whatever triggers the blooming, it seems to work, as most plants seem to set seeds.
us triphora.gif 7.98 K The three birds orchid is found from Nebraska to Maine and south to Texas and Florida. It is on the species of conservation concern lists of most of the northeastern states.

In Arkansas it is found in the Ozarks and Ouachita mountains.

In our area it may be found in the woods from the river to midway up the ridge
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