Platanthera psycodes

Platanthera psycodes lesser purple fringed orchid

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

The flowers of this native, perennial member of the orchid family have 3-part fringed lower lip and a backwards-pointing nectar spur. The upper sepal and the two upper petals are erect. The two side sepals are oval-shaped. The flowers are numerous on a 2-inch thick cluster and have a color similar to that of lavender phlox. Individual flowers are about 1 inch long. The flower cluster can be up to 10 inches tall. Moths pollinate the flowers in an interesting way. The pollen mass has a sticky disk that protrudes below the anther. As the moth extends its tongue into the nectar spur, it pulls the pollen mass from the anther. It then carries this to another flower. The species name of the flower translates as “butterfly” and refers to the shape of the flower.

The leaves are generally oval or elliptical-shaped. Near the base they are largest—up to 8.5 inches long. The plant of this species grows 1-3 feet high in swamps and meadows. It is found in southeastern Canada south to Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and New Jersey. It can also range further south to Georgia in the mountains. In Western Pennsylvania, it is documented in Allegheny County north to Lake Erie and in the mountains.  It is also called the small purple fringed orchid or the lesser fringed bog orchid. The related large purple fringed orchid (P. grandiflora) is often regarded as a larger version of P. psycodes and often overlaps it in size and form. It also has minor anatomical differences in the flower structure. P. grandiflora is also found in northwestern Pennsylvania and generally blooms earlier than P. psycodes.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Occasional in bogs, swamps, damp meadows,  and open woods.

See Distribution at Bonap Map.

Range: Found in southeastern Canada south to Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and New Jersey.  Can also range further south to Georgia in the mountains.

Wetland codes

Flowers June through August.

S-rank:  No rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)