Friday, February 11, 2011

Northern Green Bog Orchis (Platanthera aquilonis)

This is one of the green-flowered Platantheras, which I find incredibly hard to distinguish, both because many of the species are similar, but also because they interbreed and are, therefore found in many intermediate forms.

Platanthera aquilonis is one of the easier species to distinguish both because its lip is yellowish in color and because of its club-shaped spur. It is also one of the larger-flowered and more attractive species.

The individual flowers are less than 1 cm, but the plant, usually around 45 cm, bears many flowers, up to 60 per spike, and puts on a fair show as a result.

All the Platantheras have been and by some still are classified as Habenarias, and this species was once known not only as a Habenaria, but as H. hyperborea, now considered to be confined to Greenland.

We have not found this species as often as we have the other Platantheras, but when we've found it, it has been locally abundant, and always growing, as is the case with many in the genus, in marshy areas.

The plant ranges all across Canada and Alaska and across the northern United States as well and down into California and New Mexico.

I believe that this Platanthera aquilonis also, though the shape of the lip is quite different.  The hooded flowers, the club-like spur and color of the lip seem to be diagnostic, but perhaps someone who knows these plants better than I do can correct me.


  1. a comprehensive knowledge about orchid that usually ignored, Ron. and all of this blog is about orchid! what a treasure... thanks for always keep informed about this beautiful creation. i wish someday you can collect information about orchid in Indonesia before they extinct...

    1. Thanks, John, for looking and commenting. How I would love to visit Indonesia some day. Whether or not that's possible I do not know. It would be very nice to visit you as well and have you take us to see some of the places you've so beautifully photographed.

  2. Very beautiful display of photos and information thank you!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments and for visiting my blog.