Species At Risk

Purple Twayblade

(Liparis liliifolia)


Purple Twayblade
Purple Twayblade occurrences map


Purple Twayblade is a small orchid that can grow to 25 centimetres tall. It has two broadly elliptical, toothless, shiny green leaves at the base of the plant and a single straight green or purplish tinged stem. Five to 30 flowers grow along the stem and are clustered towards the tip. The petals are green to mauve-purple and the lower lip of the orchid flower is decorated with a network of reddish-purple veins.

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In Canada, Purple Twayblade is found primarily in southwest Ontario. Two additional populations are known from farther east, one in the Regional Municipality of York and the second in Frontenac County near Kingston. Based on field surveys undertaken from 2007 to 2009, the Canadian population of Purple Twayblade is estimated at 200 to 500 plants in any given year within up to 19 distinct populations.


In Ontario, Purple Twayblade is found in a variety of habitats including open oak woodland and savannah, mixed deciduous forest, shrub thicket, shrub alvar, deciduous swamp, and even conifer plantations. It will grow in partial shade, but does not like dense shade and depends on natural disturbances, such as storms and fire, to keep its habitat relatively open and sunny.


The main threat to Purple Twayblade is habitat loss and alteration, development, and the growth of trees and shrubs that increase shade beyond what this species can tolerate. Some populations may be threatened by browsing White-tailed Deer and by competition from invasive plants such as Scots Pine, European Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard.


Purple Twayblade is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help Purple Twayblade

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Purple Twayblade. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Purple Twayblade on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Purple Twayblade and many other species at risk depend on healthy grassland prairies, a rare habitat in Ontario. Learn more about these habitats, the species that depend on them, and what you can do to help at www.tallgrassontario.org.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies; www.invadingspecies.com; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca.

Did you know?

Purple Twayblade often grows in grassland savanna – one of the most endangered habitats in Canada. This extremely rare community supports an amazing diversity of wildlife, plants, butterflies and other insects.

Did you know?

Fire plays a key role in maintaining the savanna habitat where the Purple Twayblade lives. Fire stimulates the growth of these hardy prairie flowers and naturally removes many trees and shrubs that would otherwise take over through a process called natural succession.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.