Habitats of Puttyroot (Aplectrum hyemale) and Cranefly (Tipularia discolor) Orchids: A Comparison of Two Wintergreen Species in Western North Carolina

Tyler Clabby


Puttyroot orchid (Aplectrum hyemale) and cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) are two wintergreen species found across much of the eastern United States.  Like other wintergreens, both species have a unique phenology.  In the winter, when the canopy is clear of deciduous leaves, they unfurl a single leaf and photosyntehsize with little competition.  By spring, the leaves die back and a single flowering stalk emerges in summer.  There have been marked declines of both orchids across their northern range, yet both seem to be thriving in the southern Appalachians.  Due to conservation pressures in northern states, most published studies on both species have focused on this region; subsequently, little is known about their habitat in the southern Appalachians.  The purpose of my research is to investigate the abundance and habitat requirements of these two species in order to contribute to their conservation in the southern mountains.  I propose to study puttyroot and cranefly orchids in the Coleman Boundary of Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina during early winter.  I will collect data on population size, light levels, leaf chlorophyll, number of flowering stems, surrounding vegetation, slope aspect, and soil characteristics to determine the extent that their habitats overlap.


Puttyroot Orchid; Cranefly Orchid; Habitat

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