Platanthera lacera (Ragged Fringed Orchid)

Plant Info
Also known as: Green Fringed Orchid, Ragged Orchis
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; wet; bogs, swamps, wet meadows
Bloom season:July
Plant height:8 to 32 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: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are sparsely to densely packed in a 2 to 6-inch spike at the top of the plant. Individual flowers are ½ to ¾ inch long, whitish green, pale green or yellowish green, irregularly shaped. At the top of the flower, forming a hood, are 2 narrow rounded petals covered by a green sepal; 2 more larger sepals curl down behind the flower. Under the hood are 2 small yellowish tubular stigma. The lower petal is the showiest part of the flower, about ½ inch wide and usually paler than the rest of the flower. It is lobed in 3 parts—2 side lobes that extend outward and 1 that extends down, each lobe deeply divided into fringed sections. There is a long spur at the back of the flower that curves down behind the lower petal.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves at the base of the plant are up to 5 inches long and 1 inch wide, quickly becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. The upper leaves are more densely packed and about 1 inch long. Leaves have a prominent center vein, faint parallel veins, a blunt point at the tip and sheath the main stem at the base.


This is one of 43 species of orchid native to Minnesota. There are other fringed orchids, but those are pure white, purple or yellow.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Blaine, Anoka County. Photos courtesy Lorry Erickson taken in her cranberry bog in Wisconsin.


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

Posted by: Brenda - Willow River Minnesota
on: 2010-07-04 07:40:37

It was quite a delightful surprise to stumble across a small delicate orchid while walking a piece of land that we recently purchased near Willow River. Thanks to the images and description on this website, I think I have zeroed in on the spp. The flowers are very small and delicate. Quite beautiful.

Posted by: Jeanne - Saint Paul
on: 2012-07-23 11:02:23

Spotted this (Ragged Fringed Orchid) in Bear Head Lake State Park July 5, 2012.

Posted by: Jeff and Martha - Luck, WI
on: 2015-07-12 08:54:52

Just found this orchid growing in an area which had been cattle pasture until 25 years ago. We are in this area often and are sure we would have noticed it years earlier had it been growing. It's fun to think of what else may be lying dormant in the soil just waiting for the right conditions to emerge.

Posted by: Jason - William O'Brien State Park, Washington County, MN
on: 2016-01-14 12:45:25

I found this species growing in a very upland prairie on a west facing gradual slope while looking for Botrychium simplex in William O'Brien State Park. There were three plants, and the one that was producing flowers was 5 to 10 feet from a red cedar tree, growing among the little bluestem, big bluestem, and Indian grass. The soil is moss covered with much evidence of a complex soil fungal community. This species is known to be a wetland species in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, but this small population is growing and reproducing in an upland mesic prairie. Also associated with Liparis liliifolia at this location.

Posted by: Jason - Throughout Minnesota
on: 2016-01-14 12:51:45

There is a white form of Platanthera psycodes (Purple fringed orchid) that is often mistaken for Platanthera lacera. I've seen the white form of P. psycodes several times throughout northern Minnesota, and have had pictures emailed to me a few times inquiring about the species identification. For one, P. lacera has more irregularly shaped (non-symmetical)and 'ragged' shaped fringed petals than P. psycodes. Additionally, the flowers of P. lacera tend to be slightly smaller than the flowers of P. psycodes. Of course, this potential identification confusion is only an issue when the one encounters the white form of the Purple fringed orchid.

Posted by: Heidi - Carver park,former farm meadow. Carver county
on: 2016-06-29 07:38:55

Found a.m. of 6/28/16

Posted by: Mary - SE Carlton County
on: 2017-07-07 09:19:31

I have been watching a patch of these that appear irregularly over the last 10 yrs. This year I saw them coming up but they were devoured by orchid weevils! I spritzed them w/ a rec. pesticide - I felt bad, :(, but 2 appear to be making it.

Posted by: Cynthia - Gnesen Twp, N of Duluth
on: 2018-07-26 15:13:54

We found two instances this summer on our land. Two plants growing together in a mesic condition, where it is annually mown for hay. We moved them to a protected area. And we found one plant in a tamarack wetland area on the edge of the hay meadow.

Posted by: Marie-Anne Westigard - Schroeder, on the ridge above Hwy 61, under power lines
on: 2021-09-27 07:11:33

In 2020 I found a large single stem in bloom and took pictures. This year,2021, I searched and could not find plant or bloom. I would like to know how common the Ragged fringed Orchid is in Cook County.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-09-27 08:29:21

Marie-Anne, if you look at the county distribution map you'll there have only been 3 collections in Cook County. It's unlikely that represents all known locations, but might indicate it is uncommon. You can also check the Bell Herbarium online atlas to see if there are other reports in the county.

Posted by: Daniel Menken - Woodbury
on: 2022-06-09 17:01:07

This orchid bloomed in my suburban garden in Woodbury, Minnesota, on June 22, 2002 - though I just learned its name today. I have many excellent photos. Our house was built in 1992 on a former Christmas tree farm (mostly Norway Pine) with heavy clay soil near Tamarack Swamp. My garden remains undisturbed, but is overgrown with spreading groundcovers.

Posted by: Dh - Hubbard county
on: 2023-07-18 17:09:05

Blooming in my meadow around 15 to 20 plants.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the spammers 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.