Puttyroot or Adam-and-Eve, Aplectrum hyemale
Orchidaceae or Orchid Family

Population in winter

A plant with an unusual lifestyle. One leaf only, oval, pointed, white-striped, wrinkled and rather dry-looking. Leaf comes up from the ground without any stem in late autumn and persists through the winter before disappearing in the spring. In late spring, usually after the leaf disappears, a stalk of flowers may appear. Flowers irregular in shape, with 3 spreading bracts, greenish, marked with purple-brown or yellow-brown, with a white, magenta-spotted lip. Fruit a capsule. Roots bear two to four tubers, the Adam and Eve, when two.

A peculiar native, fairly common in some places in this part of Virginia, but rare in Wildwood. One populations known, one with five or six plants near the top of the Main Street Staircase. Has bloomed rarely. Another, single plant near the top of the Westside Trail has disappeared, probably wiped out by foot traffic or erosion, or both.

Dead-looking, yet still green leaves in the winter are unmistakable. The tiny, orchid flowers on leafless stalks are also unmistakable.

Plant in flower

 Flower, front view

Flower, side view

Winter leaf closeup 

Winter leaf

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