Tipularia discolor
Cranefly orchid
Image of Tipularia discolor

Photo by Brad Slaughter 

Key Characteristics

Small orchid (10-60 cm) of rich mesic forests; one purple-green ovate basal leaf; flowers green to purple with a long basal spur, loosely clustered a tall stalk.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G4G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Tipularia discolor

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Cranefly orchid occurs in beech groves or rich mesic forests dominated by hemlock, sugar maple, yellow birch, and beech. It is often found at the base of slopes or flats along streams.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Red oak, beech, sugar maple, red maple, tulip tree, yellow birch, white oak, flowering dogwood, maple-leaved viburnum, blue-beech, witch hazel, hop hornbeam, partridge berry, rattlesnake fern, wild sarsaparilla, enchanter’s nightshade, and false spikenard.


This orchid may require relatively large tracts of mature to old growth forest where natural disturbance processes can occur unhindered. It may be vulnerable to excessive or indiscriminate logging activities.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Sep 24, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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