Puttyroot Orchid

Buffy and I were walking toward the creek on my rural property, and I walked right up to a puttyroot orchid … last day of November.

It may only be a leaf, but it’s still an orchid.

Three more orchid leaves grew near the creek. The leaves will remain green all winter and then wilt about the same time the flowers bloom mid-May into June.

The flowers in this picture are a little past full bloom. Puttyroot orchids (Cymbidium hyemale) grow up to 20 inches tall. They grow in low, rich woods, along streams and in ravine bottoms here in southern Illinois. Their range covers northeastern U.S.  from Minnesota, part of Missouri and Tennessee.

Sometimes it’s easier to find the seed stalks of orchids than the flowering plant.

Puttyroots orchids can grow in patches and only a few bloom. There used to be a large dense patch of them along the road to a place Buffy and I visit often. There were 50-plus leaves in an oval. They were visible from the road if a person knew where to look. I visited every year … the patch “disappeared” six or seven years ago. Native orchids don’t transplant well at all. What a loss and a shame!


12 responses to this post.

  1. I grew up in Tennessee in the country and have never seen this before. 🙂 Maybe I grew up too far south. I was down near the Alabama border.


  2. Posted by my secret love for you on December 19, 2012 at 7:36 am

    It is unbelievable how many types of orchids are, where ever you go you will find that they have orchids, different types, where I grew up they had several types, but they were wild. Around the late 80’s, they began the commercialization of this flower, and now you can barely see one in the country side. This one look very pretty do you know the ones that bloom , for how long last the blooming?


    • Most of our orchids aren’t easy to find. The few more showy ones wouldn’t be good ones to sell… I don’t think. People should just leave them for the lucky others to find.


  3. Very unusual plant. What a shame that so many of those that you used to see, are now gone. Are these endangered?


  4. Only a leaf, but a beautiful leaf! I like the contrast to the other leaves. How nice to have wild orchids around, I’ve never seen that anywhere except in South East Asia.


  5. Cool, I’m looking forward to spring when I can go on a Trillium hunt on the river..:-)


  6. Posted by Therese on December 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Love the surprise when I walk and suddenly find a puttyroot! Nice
    photos. I really miss walks in the woods.


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