Ragged Fringed Orchid

Platanthera lacera

Here’s a lovely native orchid blooming now, in mid-June. I found this one growing in a hay field at Heritage Park in Blacksburg. It is fairly common on the east coast, although this is my first time ever seeing it. I was pretty excited to find it 🙂 !

Two common names for this plant are ragged fringed orchid or green fringed orchid. Both names apply nicely—the flowers are greenish-white and the lower petal (called the labellum) is so “fringed” that it looks tattered or ragged. In fact, the “lacera” part of the scientific name implies that the flowers appear lacerated.

This orchid typically has 2 to 6 leaves that are alternate and narrowly elliptic. In the summer months, the flowers are borne at the top of a raceme (a crowded stalk of blooms) that can grow up 20 inches in height.

Ragged fringed orchid is primarily a wetland species (wet prairies, marshes) although it thrives in a very wide range of habitats, from wet to dry, and open to shaded. The flowers are pollinated in the evening by moths that are attracted to its sweet scent. What a charmer!

While you are here, check out Yellow Fringed Orchid and Large Purple Fringed Orchid.

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