Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Twayblade at Heartwood: A Fairytale

Southern twayblade by Kelby Ouchley
OK, it's not a fairytale.  It could be and this is surely a plant from a fairytale.  This tiny orchid (Listera autralis Lindl.) is called southern twayblade.  It is about 6 inches tall with two opposite, sessile, ovate to elliptic leaves which are about 1/2 inch long.  It grows in moist upland pine and hardwood forests.  I find it blooming in the upland forests around my home in February or March.  I am always enthralled by its tiny reddish, brown flowers and stem.  It rises out of the leaf litter like a bit of magic and the individual plants are widely scattered across the forest.  Surely the fairies strew the seeds.
"Once upon a time a fairy named Listera lived beneath the oak trees in the forest.  Her favorite task was planting the seeds of a tiny orchid.  How she adored this job and only she could do it."

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