Connecticut Plants
Three-birds Orchid (Nodding Pogonia)
Triphora trianthophora (Sw.) Rydb.

Three-birds orchid was thought to be extirpated in Connecticut, but it was recently rediscovered in the state -- by Connecticut Botanical Society member Eleanor Saulys. This plant is very difficult to find in bloom. Most flowers last only one day, and nearly all flowers in a given area will open on the same day. (Flowering seems to be triggered by a drop in nighttime temperatures.) Because flowers can be found on only a few days a year, those who seek three-birds orchid would do well to learn what it looks like out of bloom (see third photo below).

  • Family: orchid (Orchidaceae)
  • Habitat: rich, moist woods, often associated with rotting logs
  • Height: 3-12 inches
  • Flower size: 3/4 inch long
  • Flower color: pale pink
  • Flowering time: July to October
  • Origin: native
Triphora trianthophora (Sw.) Rydb.

These two photos, from a population in New Hampshire, were taken one day after the peak of bloom. At their peak, flowers are open further, revealing a white lip petal with three green stripes.

Triphora trianthophora (Sw.) Rydb.
Triphora trianthophora (Sw.) Rydb.

Three-birds orchid past bloom. At the upper left is a developing seed capsule.