Malaxis unifolia Michx. - Green Adder's Mouth

Malaxis unifolia plant

Family - Orchidaceae

Stems - Flowering stems to 30cm tall, erect, herbaceous, glabrous, slightly angled or winged, from a fleshy corm and fleshy roots.

Leaves - One per flowering stem. Often a much reduced leaf may be present near the base of the flowering stem also. Stem leaf ovate, entire, glabrous, green adaxially, silvery-green abaxially, acute, to 8cm long, 5cm broad, sheathing at the base all the way to the base of the flowering stem.

Inflorescence - Terminal raceme, dense in flower, elongated in fruit. Pedicels to 1cm long, glabrous, subtended by a small subulate bract. Bracts to 3mm long, glabrous.

Flowers - Small, green, 5mm long, glabrous. Floral tube 2mm long. Upper sepals deflexed, 2mm long. Lower sepals rounded at the apex, 2mm long, the margins revolute. Lateral petals thin, linear, to 1.5mm long, recurved. Corolla lip 2-lobed, 2.5-3mm long. The lobes acute. The upper lip whitish-green. Column 3-lobed (the lobes acute), .75mm long. Capsules spreading, 3-6mm long, elliptic, ribbed.

Malaxis unifolia flowersFlowers.

Flowering - May - July.

Habitat - Mesic to dry upland woods, typically on acidic substrates.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This little orchid is found in the Ozark region of Missouri. Because of its green color and small size, the plant is easily overlooked in the field. This is an easy plant to ID, however, as nothing else in our flora resembles it.

Photographs taken at Alley Spring Park, Shannon County, MO., 6-23-03.


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