Large Purple Fringed Orchid

Platanthera grandiflora

Ooo-la-la!! Look what I found! While searching for something else, I practically stumbled on this little pink firebomb up in the woods at Mountain Lake. On first glance, I thought it was “just Phlox”, which started to bloom in the woods near Blacksburg recently. Then I took a couple steps closer and nearly fell over with surprise!

This is the kind of flower that flower geeks dream about: rare, exotic-looking…gorgeous. Almost any of the orchids would fit that bill for me, but this one is actually endangered or threatened in several eastern states. This is a rare find.

Large Purple Fringed Orchid blooms in June and July at higher elevations in Southwest Virginia. It prefers moist areas with lots of light. I found this one along a wooded mountain trail, growing next to a damp seep. Other habitats include wet meadows, riparian areas, and moist roadside banks.

As you can see in the photo gallery, the leaves are oval or lance-shaped and get smaller as you go up the stem. The flowers are light purple or rose-pink; the lower lip of the flower has 3 distinctive, fringed parts. There is a long, curved spur on the back of each flower. The plant grows from 1 to 2 ft. tall; the plant in this set of photos was about 1 ft. in height.

4 thoughts on “Large Purple Fringed Orchid”

  1. Hello,
    I’m looking for this particular orchid for my botanical illustration course work and wondered if you’d be so kind as to share details of the location where you found it? I live near Front Royal and need to complete field sketches for my course work. Please get in touch with me via Email. Thanks.

  2. I also would love to know where to see this beautiful orchid. I am a volunteer for The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resource Defense Council. So I keep the secret and want to preserve and protect what is left of our beautiful natural resources.. I would appreciate your help for this coming spring, summer season. Darlene Kershner

    1. Hi Darlene. I wouldn’t be able to give you accurate directions to this plant, but I could show you myself sometime. Get in touch with me in the spring and perhaps we could meet up to see if we can find the plants again.
      Take care,
      G

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