Platanthera obtusata (Blunt-leaved Orchid)

Plant Info
Also known as: Small Northern Bog Orchid
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; coniferous bogs and swamps
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:3 to 11 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Shorter, sturdy raceme of 4 to 18 green to white flowers, each about ¼ inch across and ½ inch long. An upper sepal and 2 petals loosely form a hood above the creamy colored pollen sacs, 2 larger broad lateral sepals sweep out and back on sides. The long narrow lower lip is sharply tapered below; the spur behind the flower is of similar shape and size. This flower typically displays with upper hood projected straight out horizontally, lower sepals and lip projecting down and back.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Usually 1, rarely 2 basal leaves 1½ to 6 inches long, ½ to ¾ inch wide, typically broadest above the middle, with a blunt or rounded tip and tapering at the base. The stem is smooth, usually without bract-like leaves that are found on many other Platanthera species, but rarely has 1 on the upper stem.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an erect capsule about 3/8 inch long containing many seeds, that ripens to brown in late summer. They can persist until the following season.


Populations can be dense in preffered habitat. As is often a risk, diminuative plant species are at constant risk of would-be enthusiasts walking all over them. When in these habitats, practice being a good gardener and watch where you put your big feet (and set down your camera equipment)! This species sometimes goes by Habenaria obtusata (as in Newcomb's and Peterson's field guides), but genus Habenaria is now widely considered restricted to the tropical species and Platanthera the temperate zone species.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Chippewa National Forest near Akeley in Hubbard/Cass counties


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Joe Lindgren - Boundary Waters
on: 2019-06-16 18:57:04

I saw a single, lovely flowering specimen on a portage trail in western Boundary Waters, near Lac La Croix, on June 15.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.