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Galearis spectabile [USDA zone 3a - 9b]

Plants are flowering size tubers. Plants are sold bare root October – April. Plants are sold potted in 2” rose pots April – October.


This plant is native to northeastern North America.  Its native habitat extends from southern Quebec, western ME, VT, western MA, CT, NY, southern Ontario, MI and WI in the north to northern AR, western TN, NC, and extreme northern SC in the south.  Its range extends from the Atlantic to south-east MN, IA, MO, and AR.


Plant Description:  The plants consist of a fleshy, elongate, ¾” – 2” long tuber. From this emerges 2-3 hairy thin textured leaves and several smaller subtending bracts.  From the center of the leaves emerges the inflorescence.  Each inflorescence can hold 3 – 6 flowers.  Individual flowers are ¾” – 1” tall and ¼” wide.  The sepals and petals are pink and are cupped over the top of the column and labellum.  The labellum is white somewhat diamond shaped with irregular edges. 


Growth Cycle:  The growth cycle is typical of most Spring Ephemeral perennials.  In spring a shoot begins to emerge from the tip of the tuber. In my garden (USDA zone 6a) this occurs (late March – mid April).  Shortly afterwards the roots begin to emerge from the base of the shoot. After 1-2 weeks of active growth if strong enough, the plant will produce a single inflorescence.  In my garden this occurs (late April – late May). Flowers will last 2-3 weeks depending on the weather. As flowering finishes the plant will begin producing the next tuber for the following season. When seeds have dispersed the leaves will begin to look a bit haggard.  Some yellowing and dry brown spots are typical. Plants will be without leaves by September or October.


This is a beautiful spring flowering species. Originally it was described as Orchis spectabilis but is now correctly placed in the genus Galearis.  Unusual but not unique is that the genus Galearis is found in both eastern North America and western Asia (Japan, N. & S. Korea, central China, northern Thailand, and the Himalaya). This is often referred to as an eastern North American - eastern Asian plant disjunction.  Such distributions are due to past ice ages that lead to the loss of the plants in western America and the “pushing” of the remaining species to the south and east.

Galearis spectabile [USDA zone 3a - 9b]

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