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Upland Spreading Pogonia, Appalachian Small Spreading Pogonia, Small Spreading Pogonia, Small Rosebud Orchid, Funnel Crest - Cleistesiopsis bifaria


Family: Orchidaceae - Orchid family Genus Common Name: Spreading Pogonia Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Cleistesiopsis bifaria - Upland Spreading Pogonia, Appalachian Small Spreading Pogonia, Small Spreading Pogonia, Small Rosebud Orchid, Funnel Crest. syn. Cleistes bifaria, syn. Cleistes divaricata var. bifaria. One only needs to look at the science of botanical classification to understand what a slippery slope onto which they've stepped when they put their faith in science. This plant was originally classified in the Arethusa genus by Linnaeus. That genus was split up (there is now only 1 species left in Arethusa), and Spreading Pogonia wound up in the Pogonia genus. In 1922 that genus was reworked, and this plant was placed in Cleistes as Cleistes divaricata (Cleistes comes from the Greek word kleistos - closed - which references the lip and petals that separate only near the tip, with most of the corolla length enclosed as a tube.) In 1946 it was recognized that distinct varieties were needed to properly define the plant, and Cleistes divaricata var. bifaria was born. In 1992 the Spreading Pogonia varieties were determined to be distinct enough that the bifaria variety was elevated to species status as Cleisted bifaria. In 2004 a study was published which led to the proposed separation of the montane (Upland Spreading Pogonia) and coastal plain (Coastal Plain Spreading Pogonia) plants previously considered to be Cleistes bifaria (distinguished from Cleistes divaricata primarily by size of various parts.) Scent is the key diagnostic between the odorless montane species Cleistes bifaria and the vanilla-scented coastal plain plants placed into the new species Cleistes oricamporum, formalized in 2009. However, these three North American species had some noteworthy differences from the South American members of the species (which significantly outnumbered the N.A. species), and in 2009 the name Cleistesiopsis ("like Cleistes") was formally introduced, and many authorities have lined up with that new name.

Cleistesiopsis bifaria is a plant of moist to moderately dry meadows and grassy openings of the mountains and Piedmont of the southeast - as far north as West Virginia and southward into northern Alabama and Georgia. Since some authorities have not yet aligned with the separation of the C. oricamporum species, including the USDA whose map I use, I am continuing to list this in AL, FL, LA, MS, and TX, states which would not include Cleistesiopsis bifaria, but would include Clestesiopsis oricamporum. Since Upland Spreading Pogonia best describes the narrower definition of C. bifaria, I am choosing to use that common name rather than the perhaps more widely used Small Spreading Pogonia.

Found in:
AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, GS
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

Distribution of Cleistesiopsis bifaria in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 26 May 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: AEDC, Coffee County, TN Date: 2016-June-08Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The three Cleistesiopsis species feature a leafy bract behind the flower(s) at the summit of the stem. There is usually a single flower, but there are reports of as many as 4. Above the pinkish to white flower are three spreading, narrow, long, brown to purple sepals.
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

Site: AEDC, Coffee County, TN Date: 2016-June-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The pink or nearly white flower is three-lobed. The lower, central lobe with a grooved keel.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

Site: AEDC, Coffee County, TN Date: 2016-June-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The genus name Cleistesiopsis comes from the Greek word kleistos, referring to the petals which form a tube up to the lip, which is pink to white, with pink or purple veins.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

Site: AEDC, Coffee County, TN Date: 2016-June-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves are cauline, arising from a sheath on the stem. A non-flowering plant may have up to 3 leaves; a flowering plant will usually have only one or occasionally two.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

Site: AEDC, Coffee County, TN Date: 2016-June-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Cleistesiopsis bifaria grows in plains, meadows, and forest openings. This colony is in a very moist, almost bog-like environment, but at higher elevations the plant may grow in drier locations.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

Site: AEDC, Coffee County, TN Date: 2016-June-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Upland Spreading Pogonia flower not fully opened
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cleistesiopsis bifaria

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer