ghost orchid

Snowy Orchid, Bog Torch (Platanthera nivea)

Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids Website

Classification:
  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.


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Snowy Orchid, Bog Torch (Platanthera nivea)
Description:
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)

Images:
 
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - opening spike
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - opening spike
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - entire spike.
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - entire spike.
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - semi-closeup shot.
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - semi-closeup shot.
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - flower closeup.
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - flower closeup.
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) in Situ
Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) in Situ
Snowy Orchid, Bog Torch (Platanthera nivea)
Snowy Orchid, Bog Torch (Platanthera nivea)

Description:
 

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.

Return to the Gallery of Native Orchids


Copyright © 2008 Prem Subrahmanyam, All Rights Reserved.
No Text or Images from this web site may be used, in whole or in part, without the express permission of the author.
For further information, see the Terms of Use page.