Listera cordata (Heart-leaved Twayblade)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:shade; damp, mossy coniferous or mixed forests, bogs, swamps
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:4 to 13 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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] Tall, slender raceme of 6-21 tiny (1/8 to ¼ inch top to bottom), star/badge shaped flowers, greenish to more commonly reddish purple, on top of globe-like ovaries. 3 sepals and 2 petals are evenly arrayed star-like around the column, similar in color and oval shape though petals are a richer color in darker pigmented flowers. The lower lip is deeply forked like a snake's tongue.

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

[photo of leaves] There are 2 heart-shaped opposite leaves, 3/8 to 1½ inches long, 3/8 to 1¼ inches wide, hairless and stalkless, about half way down stem. The stem is covered in glandular hairs above the leaves and smooth below.


Please watch your step for this tiny bit of a plant in Nature's garden. Even the most conscientious tree hugger cannot but sometimes walk all over those they would love the most. Similar species are L. auriculata (Auricled Twayblade) and L. convallarioides (Broad-leaved Twayblade). On both, the lower lip on the flowers is broader and notched but not deeply cleft, petals and sepals are reflexed away from the column, and the leaves are more oval-elliptic.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at a SNA in north-central Minnesota


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

Posted by: Angela - Iron Springs Bog SNA
on: 2013-06-06 18:37:45

Found these out in the bog today - exquisite!

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.


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.