Last summer I found (and photographed) my first fringed orchids – the Small Purple Fringed Orchid (platanthera psycodes). Recently, I photographed a related orchid – the Yellow Fringed Orchid (platanthera ciliaris). The Platanthera’s are a genus of orchids native to the Northern hemisphere – with 32 different species found in North America. They are terrestrial and have tubercules (a small rounded on the lip of the orchid).
When I first spotted the Yellow Fringed Orchids – I knew immediately that they were related to the Purple Fringed Orchids. With the fringe along the edge of the flowers – I couldn’t imagine they could be anything but native orchids. As I looked more closely at the flowers – I was fascinated by how complex of a structure they have. Not only is there the fascinating fringe – but also what look like a pair of teeth on the upper lip of the flowers.
Yellow Fringed Orchids are native to much of the eastern and southern United States and Ontario, Canada. They are threatened or endangered in a number of states including Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. They can be found blooming in many areas through the months of July, August and September.
Yellow Fringed Orchids grow up to 100 cm tall. The racemes have up to 50 flowers – each about one inch from the sepal to the end of the lower lip. The flowers range in color from yellow to apricot to orange. They prefer to grow in moist boggy areas – often along roadsides or open pine areas.
Native Americans used the Yellow Fringed Orchids to treat everything from headaches to snakebites. They also used the roots as fish bait.
I love the look of the Yellow Fringed Orchids. Now that I know what they look like – and where they prefer to grow – I hope to find and photograph more of them.
For more information about Yellow Fringed Orchids, visit