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Shadow Witch Orchid, Hairy Shadow Witch, Racemose Ponthieva - Ponthieva racemosa


Family: Orchidaceae - Orchid family Genus Common Name: Shadow Witch Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Ponthieva racemosa - Shadow Witch Orchid, Hairy Shadow Witch, Racemose Ponthieva. While there are more than 25 Pontheiva species - Shadow Witch Orchids - in the world, there are only 3 found in the United States and its territories. One of them is found only in Puerto Rico, and one only in Florida. The third one, Ponthieva racemosa is found only in 10 southeastern states (although it is also found in Central and South America as well.) As far as I can tell, Ponthieva racemosa is protected in at least 6 or 7 of the states in which it has been recorded due to its rarity and the fragility of its habitat. While I can't find official indication of a protected status in Georgia and Texas, it is found only in a few locations in those states. It grows in moist areas almost exclusively over calcareous rock - the photos here were taken in a very wet area of thin soils over limestone in a cedar glade. It's unlikely that you'll find it blooming in drought years.

Found in:
AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA

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Ponthieva racemosa

Distribution of Ponthieva racemosa 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, 25 Jun 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-September-17Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The 3 petals of Hairy Shadow Witch are white to pale green with distinct darker green stripes. Those wings at the back sides of the flower in this photo are 2 of the 3 sepals. Another sepal is hidden under the lateral (bottom) petals. The concave upper lip is the 3rd petal.
Ponthieva racemosa

Site: Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-September-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The underside of the sepals, the pedicel, the peduncle, and the leaves on Ponthieva racemosa are all hairy.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Ponthieva racemosa

Site: Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-September-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The inflorescence of Hairy Shadow Witch may have up to 35 flowers.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Ponthieva racemosa

Site: Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-September-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Ponthieva racemosa has bright green leaves that are in a basal rosette above an underground stem. The plant can grow up to 2 feet tall, topped by a raceme of green and white flowers. The peduncle is partially enclosed by green-tipped sheaths, the lowest of which may be leaf-like.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Ponthieva racemosa

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