Piperia orchids are hairless perennials of usually dry areas, with an ovoid tuberous root. The leaves are mainly basal, with the stem leaves reduced to bracts. The basal leaves are usually withering before or during flowering time. There are many flowers arranged in greatly congested, spikelike elongated clusters, colored white to yellowish-green or green, often purplish-tinged. The upper sepal is usually erect or concave and more or less hooded, often touching with the upper petals. The side sepals are spreading to somewhat bent backward. The lip is pendent to upcurved, entire with a median ridge. The reproductive column is rather short, the two pollen sacs well separated by the broad connective tissue. The spur is well developed, narrowly cylindric, straight to somewhat curved, half as long to at least twice as long as the lip, usually somewhat translucent near the base and serving to illuminate the orifice. The genus was formerly included in Habenaria.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Piperia
SPUR ABOUT 3-5 MM LONG
P. unalascensis Slender-spire Orchid Stems hairless, almost leafless, 20-60 cm tall. Dry woods, mountain sides.
Flowers numerous in a tall, bracted, narrow spike. Lip fleshy, 2.5-4.5 mm long.
Leaves mainly basal, 2-4 on the lower third of the stem, 8-15 cm long.