Platanthera hookeri (Hooker's Orchid)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; upland pine or mixed forest, coniferous swamps
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:8 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] A spike-like raceme of 6 to 25 green to yellowish, irregular, bractless flowers at the top of the stem. Flowers are about 1 inch long from tip of upper petal to tip of the long spur at the back. The upper sepal is oval, tapered to a lance-like tip, with the two smaller, more crescent to lance-shaped upper petals forming a hood. The oblong lateral sepals are sharply folded back against the stalk (ovary) and spur. The lance shaped lower petal opens down and out with the tip curling sharply up. The long, straight spur projects down and back and is tapered to a point. The whole profile resembles the toothy maw of a small flying serpent.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] The two leaves are basal, laying nearly flat on the ground opposite each other, round to oval, 2½ to 5½ inches long, 2 to 4 inches wide, the surfaces and edges smooth and slightly wrinkled.


Hooker's Orchid is relatively common in a variety of habitats in northern Minnesota though its size, profile and color can make it difficult to spot. It is truly rare in southern Minnesota, preferring steep wooded slopes and cool exposures. Land use, deforestation and invasive species will likely extirpate this species from the SE part of the state. The leaves resemble those of Large Round-leaved Orchid (Platanthera orbiculata), which has flowers with a club-shaped spur, a downward pointing lower petal, and a small leafy bract at the base of the flower stalk. The common name Hooker's Orchid comes not from the hooked shape of the lower petal, but from botanist Sir William Jackson Hooker.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Savanna Portage State Park, Aitkin County.


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

Posted by: Karine - Osage, mn
on: 2011-09-24 14:42:10

I found these this summer in the ditches near Osage, mn. I originally went there to take pictures of lady slippers but upon taking a close look I saw these orchids, and about 3 other species of orchids in the same area.

Posted by: Mike Link - Willow River MN
on: 2020-07-17 15:11:45

It grew in my Jackpine forest. I have never seen it before but the state plant expert ID it and I watched it grow and develop. It is within the forest and next to a path - only one. And I know it is rare and this is the first Pine County record.

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