Orchids are a special species of wildflower that have a 'symbiotic' or cooperative relationship with the fungii in the forest around them. This relationship is very important for the survival of the orchid. The fungii give nutrients to the orchid's seeds, and the orchid's roots help to protect the fungii. There are 36 species of orchids in the Great Smoky Mountains. These are some of the more commonly seen orchids:
Showy Orchis- Gelaris spectablis
Showy orchis is a spring wildflower. They have two long and egg-shaped basal leaves with the flowering stalk itself having no leaves. Each flower has a pink or lilac hood with a white lip.
Pink Lady's-Slipper- Cyripedium pubescens
Pink lad's-slipper is a spring wildflower. The blossom has a pink inflated pouch ("slipper") and two large basal leaves that are strongly ribbed and somewhat hairy. This is the only lady's-slipper without leaves on the flowering stalk.
Yellow Lady's-Slipper- Cyripedium pubescens
Yellow lady's-slipper is a spring wildflower. The blossom has a bright yellow inflated pouch ("slipper") with purple veins and lateral petals that are greenish-yellow to purplish-brown that twist. There are 1 to 2 blossoms and 3 to 5 leaves on each stalk.
Adam and Eve Orchid (Putty Root)- Aplectrum hyemale
Small Purple-Fringed Orchid- Planthanthera psycodes
Small purple-fringed orchid is a summer wildflower. It has a tall cluster of lilac to pink-purple blossoms. The lower lip of each blossom has three deeply-fringed lobes. Large purple-fringed orchids (Planthanthera grandiflora) have a wider and longer flower cluster.
Yellow-Fringed Orchid- Platanthera cliaris
Yellow-fringed orchids are a summer wildflower. The blossoms range in color from yellow to orange that grow into a cylindrical spike. On each blossom, the lower lip is fringed. It has large basal leaves with smaller upper leaves.
Crane-Fly Orchid- Tipularia discolor
Downy Rattlesnake Plantain- Goodyera pubescens
Nodding Lady's Tresses- Spiranthes ceruna
Nodding lady's tresses are late summer wildflowers. They have very small, white, horizontal blossoms and their largest leaves are at the base of the plant.
Wildflowers of the Smokies
Last updated: July 14, 2015