Aplectrum hyemale (Putty-root)

Plant Info
Also known as: Adam and Eve
Genus:Aplectrum
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist deciduous forests
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:12 to 16 inches

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Pale, ghostly raceme of 6 to 16 1-inch purple tinged yellowish green flowers atop an erect, smooth and leafless stalk. Top and lower two side sepals flare open outward presenting a triangular front profile, petals and lower lip forming semi-opened tubed flower in center, the lip wrinkled at apical opening. Floral spur absent, and bracts are reduced to nearly absent. 

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaf] A single basal leaf 3 to 6 inches long and ¾ to 2½ inches wide, elliptical with a pointed tip, smooth surfaces and edges but wrinkled in appearance from pleating along the alternating dark green and white parallel veins. Leaves often in large colonies with few producing flowering stalks any given year. There is a single erect floral stem to 16 inches tall, with 2-3 bladeless sheaths on the lower portion of the stem.

Notes:

While it can still be locally frequent, this like many small orchids and other natives (the entire Big Woods ecosystem) it is steadily loosing ground to development and encroaching invasive species, including earthworms. An unusual plant adapted to life in shady deciduous forests, to take advantage of the limited light available, the leaf is only present from the fall through the winter and into early spring when the trees overhead are leafless. Then as flowering time (anthesis) approaches the leaves begin to wither away just as the pale flower stalks begin to emerge.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Must have book for 2014: Pollinators of Native Plants

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken on SNA lands in Wright County

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kathleen - Glenwood
on: 2012-06-01 13:23:04

I knew this was a special plant when I saw it last year on a NW slope and had only a faint idea as to ID. Great photos and description nailed ID. Unfortunately has not reappeared this year.

Posted by: Anthony - Scott County on State Land
on: 2014-07-15 04:08:18

There is a woods with an immense population of Aplectrum hyemale in Scott County. It is the dominant ground cover with some patches containing 50 seeding stalks

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.