Cranefly Orchid

Q: I wonder if you could help me identify the plant in the attached picture. It came up under a wax myrtle in our front a couple of years ago. I first thought it was a type of ginger – not I’m not so sure. The leaves only appear in the fall and remain green through January, when they then turn a dark red. Last July it put up a dark 12″ flower stalk with several small flowers on it.

A: My native plant expert Theresa Schrum says this is an easy one. “The plant in question is our native Cranefly Orchid, Tipularia discolor. You are very observant to note the leaves in the fall. They disappear in the spring and the flower stalk only appears in the summer. In good growing conditions they will multiply and are easily transplanted.

Of note in this species, there is much variation in the coloration on the upper side of the leaf. They range from solid green to green with purple spots and stripes. Less commonly seen are those that are solid purple on the top (the undersides are always solid purple).

This link has more information:

Cranefly Orchid

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