Herbs, perennial, terrestrial, apparently epiphytic in one species, photosynthetic to mycotrophic. Roots fleshy, with a few filiform roots from stem base, some terminating in tuberoids. Stems erect, usually simple, terete, succulent, glabrous. Leaves 1-10, alternate and distichous, or solitary at midstem, without stipules, glabrous, sessile, not articulate, clasping stem; blade lance-ovate to ovate, or reduced to sheathing bracts. Inflorescences terminal, solitary or 1-10-flowered racemes, flowers axillary or terminal, arrangement spiral; floral bracts consisting of smaller proximalmost leaves, ovate to cordate, foliose. Flowers resupinate or not, short-pedicellate; sepals and petals distinct and free; dorsal sepal lanceolate to oblanceolate; lateral sepals lanceolate, slightly falcate; petals linear-lanceolate to lanceolate; lip clawed, 3-lobed; disc with 3 lines or crests; column slender, 5-10 mm, footless; anther erect, white or pale green (with magenta margins in Triphora trianthophora), short-stalked, not articulate, rigid; pollinia 2; pollen in tetrads, soft, mealy; ovary fusiform, slender; stigma proximal to anther, entire or 2-lobed; rostellum simple or absent. Fruits capsules, erect or pendent, ellipsoid-ovoid or obovoid, with 6 low, narrow keels. Most species of Triphora exist in small, scattered populations and exhibit synchronous, ephemeral flowering; flowers last only one day. Synchrony enhances the chances for fertilization. Isolated flowers are rarely fertilized.
Sep and lateral pet similar, ascending; lip obovate in outline, erect at base, thence decurved, 3-lobed, traversed by 3 elevated nerves, the lateral lobes triangular, the terminal one broadly rounded; anther erect at the end of the column; pollinia 2; delicate herbs, the stem bearing several alternate lvs, arising from a solid cormose base or a cluster of short, fleshy roots; fls few, axillary, ephemeral, white to pale pink, with green veins. 10, New World.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.