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Tipularia, Cranefly Orchid, Crippled Cranefly Orchid - Tipularia discolor


Family: Orchidaceae - Orchid family Genus Common Name: Crippled Cranefly Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Tipularia discolor - Tipularia, Cranefly Orchid, Crippled Cranefly Orchid. There are 3 species of Tipularia, with only Tipularia discolor being found in the United States. The other two are Asian plants, 1 found in the Himalayas, and the other in Japan. Tipularia discolor is found in rich forests and oak-pine woods of the eastern part of the United States outside of New England, west to Illinois and south to Texas. It is protected as Threatened, Endangered, or Rare in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, but can be quite common in parts of its range.

Found in:
AL, AR, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV

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Tipularia discolor

Distribution of Tipularia discolor 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, 15 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Dade County, GA Date: 2013-August-05Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flowering stem grows to 18 to 20 inches tall. It is scape-like, glabrous, and leafless.
Tipularia discolor

Site: Flintstone, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-September-03Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90
There is a solitary stem per plant that appears in summer - June through September, depending on the region. Strangely, the plant blooms earlier in the northern part of its range than in the southern. The scape is terminated by a raceme of up to 55 small green, greenish yellow, or greenish purple blossoms. The blossoms apparently appear like a group of crane flies hovering around the stem - the genus name Tipularia comes from the name of the Crane Fly insect genus Tipula.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tipularia discolor

Site: Flintstone, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-September-03Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flowers of Cranefly Orchid are green, pale greenish yellow, or greenish purple. There is a long spur off the base of the petals that may be up to nearly an inch long.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tipularia discolor

Site: Long Branch Preserve, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-07Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flower of Cranefly Orchid are green, pale greenish yellow, or greenish purple. There is a long spur off the base of the petals that may be up to nearly an inch long.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tipularia discolor

Site: Long Branch Preserve, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-07Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tipularia discolor

Site: Long Branch Preserve, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-07Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The blossoms open at the bottom of the racemose inflorescence first.
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Tipularia discolor

Site: Virgin Falls State Natural Area, White County, TN Date: 2013-March-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The seed capsules each contains many tiny seeds. Since the leaf appears after the blooming period, the leaf and scape with seed capsules frequently coincide.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tipularia discolor

Site: Long Branch Preserve, Walker County, GA Date: 2012-December-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaf of Tipularia discolor is green or green with purple tints on top, and purple underneath. The leaf emerges from the spongy corm in the autumn after the plant has bloomed, and persists through the winter. It will wither and be gone by the time the new year’s floral scape appears. There is a single leaf per plant, and due to that single leaf some authorities formerly classified the plant as Tipularia unifolia, a name that is no longer accepted as correct.
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Tipularia discolor

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