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Vascular Plants of California
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Piperia elegans subsp. elegans

Higher Taxonomy
Family: OrchidaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, terrestrial [growing on other pls], non-green (nutrition from association of roots with fungi) or green, generally from rhizomes or tubers with few to many fleshy to slender roots; cauline leaves +- reduced to sheathing stem bracts or not. Leaf: 1--many, basal to cauline, linear to +- round, alternate to opposite (if only 1 pair), generally sessile. Inflorescence: flowers 1--many, spike or raceme, bracted. Flower: bisexual, bilateral, in bud generally rotating 180° by twisting ovary (position of parts indicated after twisting); sepals generally 3, generally free, generally petal-like, uppermost generally erect, lateral with chin- or spur-like projection (mentum) or not; petals 3, 1 (lip) different, spurred or not; stamens generally 1 (3 in Cypripedium, 2 functional, 1 a staminode), fused with style, stigma into column, pollen generally lumped, generally removed as unit by insect; ovary inferior, 1-chambered, placentas 3, parietal, stigma 3 lobed, generally under column tip. Fruit: capsule. Seed: many, minute.
Genera In Family: +- 800 genera, +- 25000 species: especially tropics (worldwide except Antarctica). Many cultivated for ornament, especially Cattleya, Cymbidium, Epidendrum, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum; Vanilla planifolia Andrews fruits used to flavor food. Note: Platanthera may be paraphyletic without inclusion of Piperia (Bateman et al. 2009 Ann Bot 104:431--445); study needed.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ronald A. Coleman, Dieter H. Wilken & William F. Jennings, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Ronald A. Coleman, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: PiperiaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: PIPERIA
Habit: Plant 10--130 cm; tubers, 1--4 cm, generally +- round; stem bracts lance-linear to ovate. Leaf: at flower 0 or +- basal, not in rosette, 2--5, linear to widely oblanceolate. Inflorescence: spike or raceme, generally cylindric, flowers not in spiral; flower bract generally < flower. Flower: fragrance, when present, generally at night; perianth white to green; sepals generally 2--5 mm, 1--2 mm wide, 1-veined, upper pointed forward to erect, lower free, spreading to reflexed; lateral petals +- = sepals, spreading to erect, lip spurred, pointed forward, down (or upcurved); column < lip; ovary inferior, generally twisted 180°. Fruit: ascending to erect.
Etymology: (Charles V. Piper, American botanist, 1867--1926) Note: Some species difficult to separate.
eFlora Treatment Author: James D. Ackerman & Robert Lauri
Reference: Ackerman & Morgan 2002 FNANM 26:571--577
Unabridged Reference: Morgan & Ackerman 1990 Lindleyana 5: 205--211
Species: Piperia elegansView Description 

Inflorescence: 3--40 cm, generally dense in full sun, open in shade. Flower: sepals white, midvein dark green, upper +- erect; lateral petals spreading to erect, ovate to lance-oblong, white to pale green, base or midvein green, white margins +- equal, lip 2.5--7 mm, +- lanceolate, +- curved downward, spur pointed down. Chromosomes: n=21.

Piperia elegans (Lindl.) Rydb. subsp. elegans
Habit: Plant 12--73(100) cm. Leaf: basal 6--30(38) cm, 10--75(90) mm wide. Flower: fragrance musky; lateral petals white to pale green, base or midvein green, lip white to pale green, spur 7--14 mm. Chromosomes: n=21.
Ecology: Generally dry, open sites, scrub, conifer forest; Elevation: < 500 m. Bioregional Distribution: NCo, w KR, NCoRO, CCo, SnFrB; Distribution Outside California: to British Columbia. Flowering Time: May--Sep
Synonyms: Habenaria elegans (Lindl.) Bol. var. maritima (Rydb) Ames; Habenaria elegans var. multiflora (Rydb.) M.Peck; Habenaria greenei Jeps.
Jepson eFlora Author: James D. Ackerman & Robert Lauri
Reference: Ackerman & Morgan 2002 FNANM 26:571--577
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Piperia elegans subsp. decurtata
Next taxon: Piperia elongata

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Botanical illustration including Piperia elegans subsp. elegans

botanical illustration including Piperia elegans subsp. elegans

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Citation for this treatment: James D. Ackerman & Robert Lauri 2012, Piperia elegans subsp. elegans, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 18, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 18, 2024.

Piperia elegans subsp. elegans
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©2011 Chris Winchell
Piperia elegans subsp. elegans
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©2011 Chris Winchell
Piperia elegans subsp. elegans
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©2015 Chris Winchell
Piperia elegans subsp. elegans
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©2011 Chris Winchell
Piperia elegans subsp. elegans
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©2022 Aaron Schusteff

More photos of Piperia elegans subsp. elegans
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Geographic subdivisions for Piperia elegans subsp. elegans:
NCo, w KR, NCoRO, CCo, SnFrB
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).