Listera borealis
Morong [Ophrys borealis] Morong Northern Twayblade

Location Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories.
Specific Habitat

A subarctic species of cold-loving orchid, similar to L. auriculata. L. borealis occurs mostly in the Northwest, and the latter only in the Northeast, their distribution overlapping in Ontario. Typical habitat of L. borealis is commonly at high elevations in moist humus of coniferous and mixed hardwood forests, along cold streams fed by melting snow. Typical habitat locations are Fort Smith, Slave River, Hudson Bay Territory.
This genus apparently also became established on the north shore of Lake Superior as the Wisconsin glaciers melted back northward. A cool microclimate permitted survival of these orchids and other alpine plant species in various shoreline habitats under white spruce and between sand dunes.

Flowering Season

Late June to mid-July.


Height 5 25 cm. Stem glabrous below the leaves, slightly pubescent above.
Leaves 2, opposite, above the middle of the stem, green to dark bluish green, ovate to lanceolate.
Raceme stout, loosely flowered. Up to 20 pale blue-green flowers. Lip oblong, slightly narrowed in the centre, apex expanded and cleft into two lobes with a small tooth in the sinus.


A rare species. May be distinguished by its narrower leaves and by its out-pointing, rather than in-clasping auricles at the base of the lip. Also, ovaries of L. borealis are pubescent, which is not true of L. auriculata.


Orchids of the Northeast
The Native Orchids of the United States and Canada excluding Florida


© Royal Botanical Gardens, Dr. Donald Gunn Image Collection.