We were hiking the Zealand Falls trail in New Hampshire and this plant, with its bright pinkish-purple flowers, caught my eye. I stopped to look at it closely, and realized that it was an orchid. Regular readers of Digging RI will recall that I grow orchids, and I have even attended a talk on native orchids, but I still needed help identifying this one.
A friend sent a photo of the plant to a very useful website, Garden Compass, where experts will ID plants and plant diseases for free.
Here’s what they told me about this stunning orchid, which is: Platanthera psyches.
“Commonly called Lesser purple fringed orchid or Small purple-fringed orchid. It is a terrestrial orchid from the genus Platanthera. Native to North america from from eastern Canada to the east-central and northeastern United States (Great Lakes Region, Appalachian Mountains, and New England). The specie name “psycodes” means butterfly-like, in reference to the ‘winged’ flower shape. A plant of wet habitats where they share it with sedges, sphagnum bogs, cedar or Alder swamps and along stream edges or the moist edges of coniferous forests. Its range is being pushed northwards as global temperatures warm. Often confused with Platanthera grandiflora with similarly colored but larger flowers. “P. grandiflora” has a much more restricted range and where the two species do overlap in range, “P. grandiflora” typically blooming from late June through early July while “P. psycodes” blooms from late July through early August.”
There were several of these orchids scattered throughout the marshy area where I spotted the first one. They were an unexpected and lovely discovery on the trail.
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