- A rare bog orchid – Lives only a few weeks each year.
Southern twayblade is a rare and discrete orchid of bogs. Like other twayblades, it takes its name from its twinned or single pair of leaves, in this species occurring at mid-stem. In the case of southern twayblade the leaves are spoon-shaped and are rich blue-green in colour. The flowers are distributed along the upper part of the stem and are reddish-purple in colour. Some individuals have been found with pale green flowers. Each flower has a narrow, deeply-pronged lip that may reach 10 mm in length. Southern twayblade is a perennial plant with a relatively complex life cycle. The above-ground shoot, which includes the stem, leaves and flowers, may not be produced every year. When it does appear, it normally lasts for only two to three weeks near the end of June or the beginning of July. Though the shoot is short-lived, the roots and the bud survive to the following summer.
In New Brunswick, southern twayblade grows on bogs, in semi-open areas where the forest grades into the open or treeless centre. It is usually found on mossy hummocks, near or around dwarfed black spruce. Bogs are a unique wetland type, created by thousands of years of accumulation of partially decomposed peat moss. Recognizing the ecological value of bogs furthers the protection of potential habitat of southern twayblade. As in the case of most orchids, southern twayblade should not be collected.
Southern twayblade has been found at roughly half a dozen sites in New Brunswick, where each population is represented by less than 20 plants. It may be easily overlooked because it is a small orchid and appears for only a few weeks each year. It is rare throughout its Canadian range, which also includes Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. Southern twayblade occurs throughout the eastern United States, and is considered rare in several states.