Thursday, September 18, 2014

Platanthera orbiculata

We have eight species of Platanthera in our area (there are a couple more in Alaska).  Many of them are rather unimpressive, but this species is an exception.  There can be no argument that Platanthera orbiculata, the Pad-leaved Orchis is impressive and the most beautiful of all our Platantheras.  Even the plant is impressive, with huge 20-25 cm shiny plate-like leaves lying close to the ground, a flower spike as tall as 75 cm, and intricate 5 cm greenish-white flowers with a long spur.

We never see a lot of this species, usually only scattered plants growing in their favorite habitat, dry open woodlands with a lot of moss and few other competing plants.  It grows in Washington, but we have seen it most often in the Canadian Rockies where we saw it this past summer.  We were hiking a part of the Berg Lake trail and found it in three different locations, blooming just as the Lady's Slippers were finishing their bloom season and earlier than the Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis.

July 10
(Canadian Rockies)


  1. Very beautiful, with those so delicate shades of green and white! It must be a pleasure to find it in its habitat. Best regards

    1. Thanks, Angel. Appreciate the visit and kind comments.