Platanthera dilatata (Tall White Bog Orchid)

Plant Info
Also known as: Scentbottle, Leafy White Orchis
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
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):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

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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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More photos

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?

Posted by: John Lawrey - McDougal Lake Campground, Lake County
on: 2019-07-31 21:11:55

Identified this beautiful orchid near the designated fishing area of the campground. The best specimen was growing close to the water in the shade of a larger bush.

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