Platanthera dilatata (Tall White Bog Orchid)
|Also known as:||Scentbottle, Leafy White Orchis|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; wet meadows, coniferous swamps, peat bogs|
|Bloom season:||July - August|
|Plant height:||14 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Slender, loose to densely packed spike-like raceme of 10 to 60 irregular, white, ¼ to ½ inch flowers. 2 lateral petals and an upper sepal form a hood at the top, 2 broad petal-like sepals flare laterally. The lower lip is narrower than the side sepals and initially curves up, touching the tip of the hood, eventually flowing downward, with a green curved tapering spur below. Very fragrant, with a spicy scent reminiscent of cinnamon or cloves.
Leaves and stem:
3 to 6 principal leaves, smooth, lanceolate to elliptical, 3 to 8 inches long, ¼ to ¾ inch wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem, alternately attached and sheathe the smooth stem. A very tall slender plant.
While not as rare as some of Minnesota's other orchid species, it is a determined search to track it down. Other than the white flowers its very similar in appearance to Platanthera huronensis and P. aquilonis (both green flowered and also known as P. hyperborea, Northern Green Orchid), which may share its habitat. Natural hybrids can occur, designated as P. X media and can be more common. Also note that this species sometimes goes by Habenaria dilatata (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.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in a cedar bog in northern Aitken county
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?