Snowy Orchid, Bog Torch (Platanthera nivea)
Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids WebsiteClassification:
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular Plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
Subclass: Liliidae - Subclass containing lily and orchid relatives
Order: Orchidales - Orchid order
Family: Orchidaceae - Orchid Family
Subfamily: Orchidiodeae -
Tribe: Orchideae - Orchidoids.
Subtribe: Orchidinae - Orchis and related.
Synonyms: Orchis nivea Nutt., Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 2: 188 (1818);Habenaria nivea (Nutt.) Spreng., Syst. Veg. 3: 689 (1826);Gymnadenia nivea (Nutt.) Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 280 (1835);Peristylus niveus (Nutt.) Kraenzl., Orchid. Gen. Sp. 1: 520 (1898);Gymnadeniopsis nivea (Nutt.) Rydb. in N.L.Britton, Man. Fl. N. States: 293 (1901).
Summary: Terrestrial consisting of a number of triangular, blue-green leaves ascending up a fluted stem, reduced to floral bracts beneath the flowers. Small flowers white, crystalline, non-resupinate with prominent spurs.
Common Name: Snowy Orchid, Bog Torch
Habitat: Moist, open pinelands, wet prairies, wet roadsides and ditches.
Flowering season: May through July (peaking in June)
The Snowy Orchid is the earliest of the Platantheras to emerge in the moist, open pinelands and acid bogs, a harbinger of even more showy orchids to come in late summer. This species often shares the same habitat with numerous carnivorous plants (Pitcher Plants - Sarracenia sp., Sundews - Drosera sp., Butterworts - Pinguicula sp., and Venus Flytraps - Dionea sp.) which often form a colorful backdrop against which to photograph the snow-white flowers.
The flowers themselves are about 1 cm tall, presented on a raceme with numerous companions in a head that can reach 3 inches (7.5cm) tall. When first opening, the raceme has a more pyramidal shape, becoming more of a tight cylinder as more flowers open. They present their lips skyward, the botanical description for this trait being non-resupinate. One unusual trait for this species among the Platantheras is delightfully fragrant flowers, with a scent reminiscent of citrus blossoms.
While not incredibly common (this species is listed as threatened in the state of Florida), it can form considerable colonies when left undisturbed in a suitable habitat.
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