Galearis spectabilis (L.) Raf.
The generic name Galearis is derived from the Greek galea
which means "helmet" and refers to the helmet-like appearance of the connivent
sepals and petals. The genus contains 11 species in a classic Arcto-Tertiary
disjunct pattern: 10 are found in East Asia, with Galearis spectabilis
found in the southeastern United States. The specific epithet
is the Latin meaning "showy" or "remarkable," in reference to the beautiful
DESCRIPTION: Plant arising from a cluster of fleshy, thickened
roots, 8-20 cm high (including inflorescence).
Leaves 2 (sterile
plants usually have only one leaf), basal, obovate to elliptical, 8-18
cm long and 2-8 cm wide. Inflorescence a loose or dense raceme,
2-10 flowered; flowers subtended by conspicuous lanceolate, acuminate bracts,
1.5-4 cm long, the lower bracts longer and typically greatly exceeding
the length of the ovary and pedicel. Sepals elliptic to ovate-lanceolate,
1-2 cm long and 5-6 mm wide, purple (rarely white); sepals connivent with
petals to form a hood over the column, opposite the labellum.
lance-linear, 1-2 cm long and 2-5 mm wide, closely appressed to the sepals
and colored as the sepals. Labellum ovate, the margins typically
wavy, white (or rarely purple), 1-2 cm long and 7-12 mm wide; labellum
with a 10-18 mm clubbed nectar spur projecting behind from the base.
SIMILAR SPECIES: It is unlikely that Galearis could be
confused with any other plant in the Wisconsin flora.
HABITAT: Typically found in moist, rich deciduous forests. Galearis
is almost always found in areas of light disturbance. I have frequently
found it along trails, on flood terraces of small streams, or on steep
slopes. All of these microsites are subject to intermittent disturbance;
apparently this minimal disturbance is necessary to create the proper habitat
for the establishment of Galearis. Studies in the Great Smoky Mountains
have shown that Galearis is particularly prevalent along trails
FLOWERING DATES: May 10-June 10.
POLLINATION: Galearis flowers in early spring, when one of the
most common pollinators is the bumblebee. Bumblebees visit the flowers
for the nectar reward stored in the spur, and during their visit the pollinia
become attached to the frons of the bee (Robertson
1928, Dieringer 1982).
Go directly to Wisconsin herbarium
Return to the main LIST of the Orchids
Return to the main KEY to the Orchids