Triphora gentianoides

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Before these Triphora gentianoides were done blooming, I thought I should get a few pics of this rare orchid... I have been growing this species for about 3 years now, they are quick to germinate and grow.

My first generation of Triphora gentianoides came from 3 seed pods collected from a person's backyard, which was cutout in a semi-decidous oak forest. I obtained the seeds (legally with documented permission) in June 2002.

Little unknown things about this rare Triphora is its ability to grow new shoot growths on a non-tuberous root. When an active root tip is broken off, a shoot appears at the "node" it forms where it was broken. It starts out as a small purple area, then it matures more and more, and points upwards... it will then mature into a new plant.

This species does not depend solely on fungi for survival, as other Triphora species do. This species is self-pollinating, and I have no way of outcrossing this species... The flower is pollinated before the flower opens. The pods swell when they are produced. The flowers open in the early morning, and shut in the afternoon.

I studied the seeds, and decided to try 3 different propagation methods. I would sprinkle seeds around in Sphagnum Moss, Humus, and in misc. orchids. The seedlings that germinated in Sphagnum lived, but produced seedlings with no flowers, with a spiraling leaf arrangement around the stem. The seedlings germinating in the humus had developed the long sheath, and was ready to kick out the blooming stem. There were no seedlings that germinated in any orchid pot.

The humus is a great way to get the plants started, but a better alternative for this species is to grow in fast draining soil. This species does not like to be damp, it will make the stem weak. The first time seedlings will break the surface late May, while the mature plants will break the surface in mid-June. The plants immediately dehiss the pods as soon as the pedicel elongates fully to 1.25cm.

The secret to cultivating this species is high light in afternoon. The plants need shade in the mornings, and then the afternoon sun beaming upon them for a few hours. Then afterwards, complete shade.

The leaves are very small, and are like bracts. They alternate sides up the stem. The first bract is the sheath, running from the tuber up to the surface. It is purple on both sides. The leaves are colored green on top, purple on the bottom. A leaf occurs at each node. The tubers grow horizontally, much like a Hexalectris. The tubers travel and produce new growth at each node. There are two types of roots; those that are non-tuberous, and those that produce tubers. The tuberous roots start as a ball-type growth, and grow outwards. The non-tuberous roots do not form new tubers, but can form new shoots.

These are the best pics I can do with my built-in laptop camera... they aren't good, but give an idea as to what they look like. The plants are about 10 inches high, which is very tall for a normally short species... these do not have the white spots on the sheaths as the wild plants have.


Triphora gentianoides


Triphora gentianoides, another view


Triphora gentianoides, the closest close-up...

Any questions about this species, please post or e-mail me at:

[email protected]

-P.A. Mahon


That's a very unique orchid. I am impressed you are able to germinate and grow them. Nice job.

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