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Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Cephalanthera austiniae (Phantom orchid)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Cephalanthera austiniae

Cephalanthera austiniae (A. Gray) A. Heller

Phantom Orchid, Snow Orchid

Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Synonym(s): Eburophyton austiniae

USDA Symbol: CEAU

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Cephalanthera austiniae is achlorophyllous and is mycoheterotrophic; that is, it utilizes Thelephora-Tomentella group ectomycorrhizal fungi to parasitize the roots of other plants.

A waxy, white, nearly leafless plant with stems in clusters and racemes of 5-20 bilaterally symmetrical, white flowers.

This aptly named plant appears ghostly in the dim light of the forest floor. Since it is not green and is therefore incapable of photosynthesis, it is dependent on a symbiotic relationship with soil-borne fungi for the acquisition of carbon.

This species was once considered the sole member of the genus Eburophyton; it is now recognized as belonging to Cephalanthera, a genus of about 12 species throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This species is the sole North American member of its genus, the rest being Old World species.

 

From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Flower:
Fruit:

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug

Distribution

USA: CA , ID , OR , WA
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: Northern Washington south to northern California mountains and southern Sierra Nevada, and east to Idaho.
Native Habitat: Dense, moist, usually coniferous woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Humus Enriched

Benefit

Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cephalanthera austiniae in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cephalanthera austiniae in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cephalanthera austiniae

Metadata

Record Modified: 2016-03-04
Research By: TWC Staff

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