Calopogon tuberosus

Bryant is working on an upcoming thematic series, but since I have enough material from my recent two trips, I thought I’d do one too. This is the first entry in a series on the orchids of Manitoba.

Calopogon contains five recognized species, primarily distributed in the southeast USA and the West Indies. The one exception is today’s species, Calopogon tuberosus, or tuberous grasspink. It has the broadest distribution, ranging from Manitoba to Newfoundland in the north to Texas, Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas in the south. Plants exhibit a morphological cline across its range; plants in the northeast tend to be shorter in height (4-20cm) with smaller flowers, while plants in the south can reach heights of 135cm and have much larger flowers. I would estimate these plants as being approximately 30-35cm in height.

While this species can be considered common (at least to its preferred environments: “acidic soils in fens, bogs, pine and oak savannas, grasslands, interdune swales”) in parts of its range, in some states/provinces (e.g., Manitoba), it is listed as a rare species. I had actually been looking for a different rare orchid I had seen in the area previously, but none of those were to be found this trip. However, as I hadn’t observed this species before, I was satisfied.

Orchids in this genus are exceptional in that they have non-resupinate flowers, that is, flowers that are not twisted upside-down. Most orchids have resupinate flowers.

Additional photographs and information are available via orchids of Wisconsin and Missouriplants.com: Calopogon tuberosus.

Calopogon tuberosus
Calopogon tuberosus

8 responses to “Calopogon tuberosus”

  1. k garness

    We have observed this plant colonize the edges of pannes and sedge meadows as water levels drop over time; it in turn becomes outcompeted by successional vegetation. It tends to prefer the company of shorter forbs, and seems be sensitive to soil moisture gradients. (We have also seen it in somewhat alkaline, sandier soils.) The color ranges from an albino form (pure white with yellow on the lip) to a deep magenta, and tend to fade a bit over time. Its close cousin in our area is Calopogon oklahomensis, which can be distinguished by its earlier bloom time (by at least two weeks), seeming tolerance of drier conditions and the leaf just subequaling the length of the flower stem (as opposed to tuberosus, in which the tip of the leaf comes just about halfway up the flower spike).

  2. Diana Ferguson

    Wow – how many pix to get these 2? Lovely.

  3. Anne

    Forgive me for taking the low road here but every time I see an orchid, I think “there is some insect out there to whom this flower is the sexiest thing ever” They just look so provocative and inviting!

  4. Lewis

    I thought it looked upside down (for an orchid!) Interesting.

  5. mary beth Borchardt

    Exquisite.
    I also enjoyed the lessons learned by text.

  6. Sue Frisch

    Thanks for the photos and interesting information.
    In our town in northwestern Connecticut (at around 1000 feet elevation), it grows on the floating mat of a bog and on half submerged fallen tree trunks around the edges. We once saw an albino plant, but could not locate it in later years. Most are deep pink.
    Rose pogonia (P. ophioglossoides) also grows there and is more plentiful.

  7. Jessica

    I love this site.
    Thank you so much for the lovely photos and the fascinating info about each plant.
    I’m a bit of an orchid-a-holic and have fond memories of seeing lovely, vibrantly colored Calopogon tuberosus flowers among sundews and other acid-loving plants when I visited Montauk, Long Island in New York State a few years ago. There were large swaths of boggy areas nestled among the huge dunes. An amazing array of micro-climates with wonderful, almost surreal landscapes.
    Thanks, again, for all the background info. I never thought of this orchid being “right side up” and most orchid flowers being “upside down”. That was a “lightbulb moment” for me. It’s always, always great to learn something new!
    BTW…for those of us who are a bit addicted to all things orchid-related…they are kinda the “sexiest thing ever” to us, too! LOL

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Diana — quite a few photographs, though not that many different compositions. I’ve been photographing with a “burst-shot” technique lately, which permits me more freedom in composition (I think the tradeoff is that compositions are a bit less considered).

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