Plants 4.5-22 cm. Leaves: blade elliptic to suborbiculate or ovate, often cordate, 10-65 × 12-52 mm. Inflorescences: floral bracts lance-acuminate, 5-28 mm. Flowers pink, magenta, or rarely white; sepals and petals erect-spreading, linear-lanceolate to linear-oblong, 10-24 × 1.5-5 mm; lip 13-23 × 4-13 mm, lamina shorter than to longer than apical horns, basal bristles sparse to extensive, brightly and contrastingly colored to dull and obscure. Capsules erect, ellipsoid to lanceoloid, 2-3 × 1-1.5 cm. 2n = 28 [var. bulbosa].
General: Perennial, 4.5-22 cm tall; scape arising from a fleshy corm; sheathing bracts 2-3, cloaking the scape. Leaves: Arising in autumn and persisting through the winter; solitary, basal, ovate, elliptic, or sub-orbiculate, 1- 6.5 cm long, 1.2-5.2 cm wide, pleated, leathery; petiole usually as long as the blade. Flowers: Borne in the axils of leaves, more-or-less erect in bud, floral tube 3-15 cm long, slender; sepals 1-4 cm long, often drying purplish; petals 1-4 cm long, pale yellow, drying reddish, the apex slightly or not at all notched; flowers April-September. Fruits: Capsule, erect, ellipsoid-cylindric, 2-3 cm long. Ecology: Ponderosa pine, spruce, fir, aspen, and mixed conifer forests, often in light to heavy shade, sometimes in deep duff or on rotting logs, generally avoids wet areas, but occasionally found on streambanks; 2440-3300 m (8000- 10800 ft); Apache, Coconino, and Notes: Ours, as here described, is var. americana. Fresh flowers have a pleasant aroma. Orchids should never be removed from the wild, and there are laws in the state protecting them from collection. Survival of this species, when transplanted, is very poor. Editor: Springer et al. 2008
Scape 1-2 dm; lf-blade round-ovate, 3-5 cm, often basally cordate, the petiole about as long; sep and lateral pet pale purple (white), 1-2 cm; lip 1.5-2.3 cm, whitish, becoming yellowish toward the tip, marked with red-brown inside, the apron white, spotted with purple and crested with 3 rows of yellow hairs; column 8-12 mm. Moist coniferous woods; circumboreal, s. in Amer. to N.Y., Mich., Minn., N.M., Ariz., and Calif. May, June. (Cytherea b.) Our plants have been segregated as var. americana (R. Br.) Luer.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.