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Platanthera lacera (Michx.) G. Don

Green fringed orchid, ragged orchid

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyOrchidaceaeOrchid family
GenusPlatantheraFrom Greek for “wide” and “flower,” hence “wide or flat-anthered”

About plant names...

This orchid, a native of eastern North America, is fond of acidic, moist soils—sandy, peaty, silty, or gravelly. It occurs in moist woodlands, sandy swamps, grassy marshes and fields, shrubby bogs, and ditches. The plants are pollinated by moths, attracted by a scent the orchids emit at night. Their greenish color and lacy flowers make them difficult to distinguish from their surroundings.

Plants: 6-31″ (14-80 cm) high, with round, light green terete stems.

Leaves: Alternate, elliptical, lanceolate to linear, or oblong in shape. There are one to five leaves along each stem, each 2-8″ (5-20 cm) long and ½-2″ (1.3-5 cm) wide. They become smaller further up the stem, and they are entire, i.e. not subdivided.

Flowers: A flowering stalk or raceme contains up to 60 flowers, each with a “lacerated” lower lip (the labellum), hence the named “fringed.” The flowers look delicate and lacy. They are white, greenish, or cream-colored, with lower petals ⅜-⅝″ (1-1.7 cm) long, and sepals ⅛-¼″ (4.5-7 mm) long. The back of each flower has a spur shaped like a club, ¼-⅞″ (8-23 mm) long. Flowers appear in summer and fall.

Fruits: Capsules are narrowly ellipsoid and about ¾″ (1.9 cm) long. They split open to release many tiny seeds which are distributed by the wind.

Online References:

Illinois Wildflowers





Minnesota Wildflowers


Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 248, 298

Platanthera lacera (green fringed orchid, ragged orchid)

7/30/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · By Priscilla Seimer

Blephariglotis lacera (Michx.) Farw.

Habenaria lacera (Michx.) R. Br.


Platanthera lacera description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Aug 2021.

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Platanthera lacera (green fringed orchid, ragged orchid)

8/1/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 4 × 6″ (10 × 16 cm)

Platanthera lacera (green fringed orchid, ragged orchid)

7/31/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 8 × 12″ (21 × 31 cm)

Platanthera lacera (green fringed orchid, ragged orchid)

8/1/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 3½ × 5″ (9 × 13 cm)


About this map...