Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Species Orchid, Cranefly Orchid, Crippled Crane Fly Orchid, Tipularia
Tipularia discolor

Family: Orchidaceae (or-kid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tipularia (tip-yoo-LAH-ree-uh) (Info)
Species: discolor (DIS-kol-or) (Info)

Synonym:Limodorum unifolium
Synonym:Orchis discolor
Synonym:Tipularia unifolia

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Maroon (Purple-Brown)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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By 01_William
Thumbnail #1 of Tipularia discolor by 01_William

By 01_William
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Thumbnail #3 of Tipularia discolor by 01_William

By podster
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By 01_William
Thumbnail #5 of Tipularia discolor by 01_William

By JulieQ
Thumbnail #6 of Tipularia discolor by JulieQ

By sterhill
Thumbnail #7 of Tipularia discolor by sterhill

There are a total of 14 photos.
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5 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive JacobH On Oct 13, 2011, JacobH from Murphy, NC wrote:

This plant is extremely common around Cherokee County, NC. Leaves pop up all over the forest floor by late September, and usually last through the winter.

No experience with cultivating the plant, but dozens have suddenly appeared in the flowerbeds of the local college as of 2011. No information on how they made it there, but likely via seeds, as the bed is a mix of potting soil and woodchips. A surprising and colorful little addition. . .

Positive meistersenger On Jan 31, 2011, meistersenger from Manteo, NC wrote:

the cranefly orchid grows on Roanoke Island but sparsely. I first spotted it because the intense purple of an upturned leaf. Later I missed seeing any blooms tho walking by the spot all summer. Would pollen from tipularia work on any other genus?

Positive wspsatisfied On Nov 21, 2010, wspsatisfied from Quincy, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This orchid is a somewhat rare native perennial in wooded ravines in Northwest Florida. Great plant.

Positive podster On Jan 18, 2010, podster from Deep East Texas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Apparently native but uncommon in east TX.

I was excited to have found this delightful wild orchid in January. I posted photos for an ID and rec'd the Crippled Crane Fly orchid identification. What a treasure! In reading up on it, I will mark the spot as the foliage will die before the blooms arrive. I will look for blooms this summer and hope to post a photo.

This find makes me want to go searching for more orchids.

Positive sterhill On Aug 3, 2006, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I "rescued" quite a number of these plants from the bulldozer. It is important to get some of the leaf mold and bits around the bulbs to make a new spot for them similar to their old spot. They grow in dappled shade. The emerging stalks are very hard to see so it is important to mark them when you plant them - they could easily be stepped on.

The bulb-like part produces a single leaf in winter/spring - green corrugated on top and deep burgundy on the underside. The leaf will disappear in the summer and later - about August here - the flowering stem will emerge.

They are planted very shallow - maybe 1/2" to 3/4" in the woodland.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cullman, Alabama
Houston, Alabama
Quincy, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Chatsworth, Georgia
Cornelia, Georgia
Bastrop, Louisiana
Gwynn Oak, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Hendersonville, North Carolina (2 reports)
Manteo, North Carolina
Murphy, North Carolina
Sylva, North Carolina
Thomasville, North Carolina
Central, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Viola, Tennessee
Leesburg, Virginia

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