Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pad-leaved Orchis (Platanthera orbiculata)

Platanthera orbiculata is a very striking species, very different from the other plants in the genus.  It ranges in a great arc from Washington, Idaho and Montana, through Canada and Alaska and down into the Appalachian Mountains as far south as North Carolina and Georgia.

Like P. obtusata, it is usually found in woodlands rather than in wet and marshy areas. and is easily recognizable not only by its location, but also by its two large pad-like leaves and its flowers which are whitish-green and look like a dragonfly in flight.

The plants are 60-57 cm tall and the individual flowers, usually 10-15 of them, approximately 5 cm in size, among the largest flowers in the genus.  It also blooms a bit later than the other Platantheras.  We've found it only when the other species were nearly finished flowering in early August.


  1. I love your mention of the Dragonfly in flight

    That is memorable .

    I really need a better book for washington state native flowers. So many holes in my Pojar

  2. This is by far and away the most beautiful of the Platantheras, Marti. Haven't seen it here in Washington, though there's a site only a mile or so from our house where it was reported years ago.

  3. Hello Ron, thank you for sharing those beautiful photos with us. North American Orchid Conservation Center is currently working on their subwebsite "Go Orchids". We are looking for some native orchid photos like you posted on your blog. Can you send me an email to We can talk about details. Thanks a lot. Looking forward to hearing back from you.

  4. Thanks for looking. I'd be happy to help in any way I can.