Triphora trianthophora
Nodding pogonia or three birds orchid
Image of Triphora trianthophora

Photo by Bradford S. Slaughter 

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Key Characteristics

Small orchid (10-20 cm) of rich woods; stem purple, leaves ovate and green; flowers few (1-6), white to pale pink, lip with three bright green crests.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G3G4


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Van Buren21907
Distribution map for Triphora trianthophora

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.


Three-birds orchid is found in rich beech-maple forests and old wooded dune forests with well developed humus layers.

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

White oak, beech, sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, paper birch, hickory, black cherry, red oak, red maple, white ash, spicebush, rattlesnake fern, shining clubmoss, Canada mayflower, hop hornbeam, blue-beech, wood nettle, jumpseed, lady fern, woodfern, red and white baneberry, bishop's cap, woolly blue violet, ginseng, and wild sarsaparilla.


Management needs are poorly known. This species may require large forest tracts where natural disturbance processes are allowed to proceed unhindered, and it may be susceptible to excessive 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 [Accessed Sep 23, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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