Blue Thread (Burmannia biflora)

Blue Thread (Burmannia biflora)

I spotted two of these diminutive plants (<10 cm tall) in a cypress dome swamp in the Florida panhandle today, and have no idea what they are, or even where to look to find out. They were herbaceous with tiny (<2 mm) leaves near the base that are pressed against the stem. The stem has one branch just below the visible flower that supported what was presumably another flower, or the bud of what will become a future flower. The flower structures were in threes, including three light violet rounded vertical "wings" and three yellowish ridges surrounding an opening at the apex, which presumably is where the flower is pollinated. The stem and leaves have some green color, but this plant may be some sort of parasite. The conspicuous leaves in the photos are not part of the mystery plant, but are mostly Eriocaulon compressum, and the nearest shrubs/trees were Nyssa sylvatica. If you have any tips, I'm all ears.

UPDATE: My friend Stella figured this plant out for me. It's called Blue Thread (Burmannia biflora), and is a myco-heterotrophic plant, which basically means it relies on underground fungus for energy production and would not survive without the fungus. The growth form with little to no leaves for photosynthesis is usually a giveaway that a plant is relying on another plant or fungus. Neat stuff. Also, here's a neat website that is all about the Burmanniaceae family.

Southern Bluethread (Burmannia capitata)

Nodding Nixie (Apteria aphylla)

This species is also in the family Burmanniaceae, but unlike plants in the genus Burmannia, it has no "wings" on its flowers. Thus the genus name Apteria (wingless).

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