The Twayblades are among the smallest of our native orchids and require sharp eyes to detect them among the recesses of the forest or bogs. The Southern Twayblade is about 5 to 10 inches tall, with two ovate, rather pointed, smooth and shining sessile leaves slightly above the middle of the stem at the top of which is a loose raceme of six to fifteen small, yellowish green flowers; sepals and petals minute, the lip one-fourth to one-half of an inch long, and two-parted or split nearly to the base four to eight times as long as the tiny petals.
(Photograph by E. A. Eames)
Figure XI Southern Twayblade (Ophrysaustralis (Lindley) House)
A rare plant of cold, sphagnous bogs in the northern counties, west to Wayne and Onondaga counties and south to Fulton county. In the Appalachian region south to Georgia, this is not a rare species.
Very similar to the Southern Twayblade is the Heart-leaved Twayblade (Ophrys cordata Linnaeus) in which the two sessile leaves are rounded or slightly heart-shaped, and the lip of the flower only two or three times as long as the petals. It is not rare in the Adirondack region but on account of its small size is easily overlooked. It has also been found in deep cedar swamps in certain other portions of the State.