Platanthera lacera

Platanthera lacera green fringed orchid

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA Synonyms:   Habenaria lacera

This native orchid has elliptical leaves with linear and parallel leaf veins, typical of the genus. Two to five leaves alternate along the stem developing from sheaths. The central stem is smooth and stout and light green in color. The plant can be 8 to 32 inches tall and is usually unbranched.

The flowers are whitish-cream to greenish-yellow in color and are borne on stout stalks about one inch long. They are fragrant, especially at night and are pollinated by moths. The flowers are part of a narrow raceme at the top of the plant that is 3-8 inches long. There is a linear, lance-shaped bract about ¾ inch long. The flowers are deeply fringed and more filamentous than the related crested yellow or yellow fringed orchid.  Hikers often overlook this flower because it is not colorful and does not stand out. Nevertheless, it is delicate and beautiful.

Each flower is about ¾ inch long and wide. There are 3 petals and a nectar spur. Two petals and the upper sepal form a small hood or upper lip that covers the reproductive parts and the opening to the nectar chamber. The lower petal is in the form of a lower lip. The seed capsule is about ¾ inch long and contains many tiny seeds that can be distributed by the wind.

The green fringed orchid grows in swamps, bogs, marshes, glades and thickets and blooms from June to September. Deer and rabbits will feed on the foliage, so it may be scarce in areas with high populations of these herbivores. It has a fibrous root system and can only spread slowly by growing new sprouts from side roots.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Frequent in open woods, moist meadows, bogs and ditches.

Present throughout the state but not common.

Range: Found throughout eastern United States and Canada, west to Texas and Kansas but rare in Florida.

Wetland codes

Flowers June to September.

S-rank:  No rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)