Malaxis monophyllos (L.) Sw. var. brachypoda (Gray) Morris & Eames

White adder's mouth

The specific epithet monophyllos is from the Greek meaning "single leaf" and the varietal name brachypoda is from the Greek meaning "short foot," apparently in reference to the length of the pedicels.

Photo courtesy of Ken Sytsma
DESCRIPTION: Plant glabrous, 10-20 cm tall, arising from an cluster of slender roots; base of the stem swollen to form a pseudobulb. Leaf solitary, located above the base of the stem, but with a sheathing base that reaches base of stem, ovate-elliptical, 3-10 cm long and 2-5 cm wide. Midrib prominent, forming a keel below. Inflorescence a loose, elongate raceme of greenish-white flowers, spicate, 15-50 flowered; each flower subtended by a minute lanceolate bract. Sepals lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, 1.5-2.5 mm long and about 1-2 mm wide, green to greenish white. Petals linear, 1.5-2 mm long and about 0.5 mm wide and colored as the sepals; typically reflexed back along the ovary. Labellum not resupinate, cordate, the apex drawn out into an acute point and typically with two basal lobes of tissue that project forward, 1-2 mm long and 1-2 mm wide (at widest point), colored as sepals and petals.

Malaxis monophyllos could possibly be confused with M. unifolia; however, the elongate inflorescence of M. monophyllos is distinctly different from the capitate inflorescence of M. unifolia. In addition, the three-toothed labellum of M. unifolia is easily distinguished from the acute labellum of M. monophyllos. In fruit, these taxa can be separated by the length of the pedicels: the pedicels are shorter than the ovaries in M. monophyllos and longer than the ovaries in M. unifolia.

Malaxis monophyllos could also possibly be confused with several species of Listera; however, all species of Listera have two leaves, rather than the single leaf of Malaxis.

The typical habitat for Malaxis monophyllos in Wisconsin is in bogs on mats of Sphagnum, underneath a canopy of Thuja or Abies.

June 20-August 1.

Unknown. Based on the small size of the flowers and their color and habitat, I would expect that pollination might be by fungus gnats.

Go directly to Wisconsin herbarium records.
Return to the main LIST of the Orchids of Wisconsin.

Return to the main KEY to the Orchids of Wisconsin.