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Platanthera flava

Previously known as:

  • Habenaria flava
  • Habenaria scutellata
  • Perularia bidentata
  • Perularia flava
  • Perularia scutellata
Phonetic Spelling
pla-TAN-ther-uh FLAH-vah
Description

Pale green orchid is a native wildflower found in eastern and central North America. In NC it is found scattered throughout the state in wet areas such as floodplain forests, hardwood, white-cedar, and cypress swamps, riparian thickets, and wet meadows. It is considered threaten or endangered in some states due to loss of habitat. In ideal conditions, it can form small colonies and spreads by tubers. In the south, it can bloom spring into fall. There are two varieties of this orchid, one found in the north and one in the southern part of its range.

It prefers full or partial sun, wet to moist conditions, and sandy or sandy-peaty soil. It can be difficult to cultivate and is generally not for sale. Does not transplant well.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. flava
    Found in the southern part of it's range
  • var. herbiola
    Found in the northern part of its range
var. flava, var. herbiola
Tags:
#partial shade#perennial#green#yellow-green#moths#riparian#wetlands#wet sites#endangered#NC native#swamps#native garden#orchid#flood plains#wildflower garden#spiky#wet soils tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. flava
    Found in the southern part of it's range
  • var. herbiola
    Found in the northern part of its range
var. flava, var. herbiola
Tags:
#partial shade#perennial#green#yellow-green#moths#riparian#wetlands#wet sites#endangered#NC native#swamps#native garden#orchid#flood plains#wildflower garden#spiky#wet soils tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Platanthera
    Species:
    flava
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    E. Canada to E. Central & SE. U.S.A
    Distribution:
    coastal plain of New Jersy and Maryland, south to central Florida, west to southeastern Texas, western Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Tennessee, and western Kentucky. Nova Scotia in Canada.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Capsule nearly erect, ellipsoidal, to 1/3 inch long, finely ribbed. It contains numerous tiny seeds that are dispersed by the wind.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    2-10 inch long spike of 1/3 inch whitish green or yellowish-green flowers with 3 petals and 3 sepals. The upper sepal curves forward and functions as a protective hood. The lowest petal forms the lower lip that curves forward and downward from the center of the flower forming a spur. The base has a pair of tiny eared lobes at the margins. There is also a small tubercle (or bump) that is found toward the base of the lip. Blooms spring into fall. Pollinated by mosquitoes and moths.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    2-5 leaves per stem, sessile, sheathing, glabrous, entire, narrowly elliptic-lanceolate, acute at apex, dull green above, slightly shinier below. They are up to 8 inches long and 2 inches wide, becoming smaller as the ascend the stem.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stout central stem is light green and glabrous.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil