Malaxis macrostachya (Lex.) Kuntze

Chiricahua Adder's Mouth, Mountain Adder's Mouth

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Accepted Synonyms: Achroanthes montana, Malaxis soulei, Microstylis macrostachya, Ophrys macrostachya.

Malaxis macrostachya, Chiricahua Adder's Mouth Orchid, is widespread throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico. The lower portion of the stem is totally sheathed by a tubelike bract and supports a solitary vertical leaf. The inflorescence is densely covered with more than 100 tiny green to yellow non-resupinate flowers. The flower-covered stalk resembles the rough, rubbery tail of a rat suggesting its other common name, the Rat Tail Malaxis. This orchid generally grows at high elevations on rocky slopes of moist canyons in mixed conifer and hardwood forests adapting to a wide range of soil moisture conditions.

Malaxis macrostachya is apparently secure because of its widespread distribution and tolerance for different habitats and high elevations. Much of its habitat is protected within designated wilderness areas.


This orchid is pollinated by fungus gnats and gall gnats.

Ecosystem Type

Forests, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is lobed
Main color of labellum:
  • green to brown
  • yellow
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is lobed
Labellum length:
1.5–2.8 mm
Sepal length:
1.5–2.8 mm
Plant height:
11–60 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Apparently Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data