Triphora trianthophora

Triphora trianthophora

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Subfamily: Vanilloideae
Tribe: Vanilleae
SubTribe: Triphoreae
Genus: Triphora
Species: T. trianthophora
Binomial name
Triphora trianthophora
(Sw.) Rydb. 1901

Triphora trianthophora is a terrestrial orchid from the genus Triphora.


The plant blooms in the fall, throughout August with several 2 cm wide flowers. Fruiting occurs in early September through early October. This plant is difficult to find in bloom because the flowers can only be seen for a short period of time. In addition, nearly all flowers in a given area will open on the same day. The plant can grow three to twelve inches tall and the flowers are pale pink or white in color.

The species name Triphora trianthophora contains several Greek meanings. The genus, Triphora, is Greek for “bearing three flowers” in reference to the three flowers that can be found on the plant. In addition, the epithet, trianthophora, can be broken down into three Greek words. The word tri means three, anthos is defined as flower, and phoros means to bring or to bear. When combined, trianthophora means “to bring or to bear three flowers”.


Plant is found in upland hardwood forests of Southeastern Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama at elevations of 0 to 1600 meters.

It likes rich, moist soils and can be spotted near rotting logs. The nodding pogonia is considered endangered or threatened in many states in the U.S.



Common Names: Nodding Pogonia, Three-Birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora)


  1. Arethusa trianthophoros Sw. 1800
  2. Pogonia mexicana S. Watson 1891
  3. Pogonia trianthophora (Sw.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb. 1888
  4. Triphora mexicana (S. Watson) Schltr. 1921
  5. Triphora trianthophora subsp. mexicana (S. Watson) Medley


For more information: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources--Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) Connecticut Botanical Society--Three-birds Orchid/Nodding Pogonia Orchids of Wisconsin--Triphora trianthophora

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