Ponthieva brittoniae Ames

Mrs. Britton's Shadow Witch

Facts About

There are no synonyms for this orchid.

Ponthieva brittoniae, commonly known as Mrs. Britton's Shadow Witch, is distributed in Cuba, the Bahamas, and Miami-Dade County, Florida. This species typically has 4 or 5 leaves arranged in a basal rosette that often whither at flowering time. The inflorescence develops in January and February, with 5-20 non-resupinate greenish white flowers on a terminal raceme. The lip is white with two dark green blotches. This orchid grows in shallow swales and depressions in open pine rocklands and has been reported to grow in Everglades National Park.

Ponthieva brittoniae is considered globally vulnerable, although there is insufficient information on this orchid in Cuba and the Bahamas. In Florida, this orchid is endangered and extremely rare.

Ponthieva brittoniae, Mrs. Britton's Shadow Witch, was named for Elizabeth Britton (1857-1934), a prominent botantist and leading founder of the New York Botanical Garden.


Pollinator information for this orchid has not been reported but the genus, though self-compatible, may require insects, such as halictid bees, to transfer the pollen. Anthophora bees may visit the flower to collect oil, secreted by the lip, to feed their larvae.

Ecosystem Type



Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
  • four
  • five
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is simple
Main color of labellum:
  • green to brown
  • white
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
  • the labellum is saccate
  • the labellum is simple
Labellum length:
4–5 mm
Sepal length:
4–5 mm
Plant height:
5–35 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 Vulnerable
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data