Platanthera ciliaris

A rare wetland orchid with yellow to orange flowers

Platanthera ciliaris yellow fringed orchid

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

The showy flowers of Platanthera ciliaris, commonly known as the yellow fringed orchid, range from pale yellow to bright orange and feature a long nectar spur (frequented by butterflies) and a deeply-fringed labellum. In Pennsylvania the plant blooms in late July, around the same time as P. blephariglottis, with which it commonly hybridizes when the two grow nearby.

P. ciliaris produces 2-4 relatively long, alternate leaves low on its stem. It is a wetland species, preferring roadside ditches, bogs, and other damp, often disturbed areas.

Its range extends from southern New England and the Great Lakes south to Florida and Texas.  It is more common in the southeastern part of its range, although field identification in that region can be challenging due to gene flow between P. ciliaris, P. chapmanii, and P. cristata.  Life for the field botanist is a little easier in Pennsylvania, where only P. ciliaris is present, but it does tend to be elusive in our state (and is thus officially listed as "rare"), growing in scattered populations that are not easy to find or – at times – access.


Simone Evans, Jason Ligon, Lauren Eserman, Emily Coffey, and Melissa McCormick. July 2022. Quantitative Morphological Variation in the Orange and White Fringed Orchids (Platanthera) in the Eastern U.S. Orchids, 91(7): 532-539.

"Platanthera ciliaris." North American Orchid Conservation Center. Copyright 2011-2022. See Platanthera ciliaris

Contributed by: Greg Funka

Grows in bogs, moist meadows, and woods.

Present mostly in the east and south of the state and is rare.

Range extends from southern New England and the Great Lakes south to Florida and Texas.

Wetland codes

Flowers July through August.

PA-satus: PT (Threatened)
S-rank:     S2 (Imperiled)
G-rank:     G5 (Secure)