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Triphora trianthophoros (Threebirds)
Cressler, Alan

Triphora trianthophoros

Triphora trianthophoros (Sw.) Rydb.

Threebirds, Three-birds Orchid

Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Synonym(s): Triphora trianthophora, Triphora trianthophoros var. schaffneri

USDA Symbol: TRTR17

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

Small, ovate, clasping leaves scattered along a fragile stem and 1 pink or white, nodding flower rising from each axil of uppermost 1-6 (usually 3) leaves.

As the common names imply, each flower resembles a small bird in flight. The plant may remain dormant for long periods, with the underground tuber giving rise to a new stem after several years; when the flowers bloom, they last only one day. Five species of this genus are known in the United States; the four others grow in Florida. Of these, the most common is Rickett's Three-birds Orchid (T. rickettii), with leaves spreading away from the stem, both leaf surfaces green, and 1-8 erect flowers.


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 1 foot tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: Ontario; Maine south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Native Habitat: Rich woods, swamp edges, and floodplains.

Growing Conditions

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


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-04-25
Research By: TWC Staff

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