Plant Profile: Yellow or Orange Fringed Orchid, Platanthera ciliaris

Figure 1. P. ciliaris, orange
or yellow fringed orchid.
Photo credit: Kenneth Sytsma.
By Tyra Davis

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopside
Order: Orchidales
Family: Orchidaceae
Genus: Platanthera
Specific epithet: ciliaris

Florida is known for beautiful beaches and theme parks but the “Sunshine State” is also home to the native and endangered Platanthera ciliaris! Of the other 9 native Platanthera species, 5 are listed by the state as endangered or threatened.

Figure 2. Fringed lip and long, narrow nectar
spur of  P. ciliaris. Photo credit: Roger Hammer.
Commonly known as the yellow or orange fringed orchid, it is easy to see how P. ciliaris got its common name. As for its botanical name, consider that the margin of the flower's labellum looks as though it has fine whiskers or cilia - hair-like projections (figure 2). This terrestrial orchid is not one to hide; when in bloom it can reach up to 3 feet tall (figure 1).

The orange fringed orchid is mainly pollinated by butterflies. They stick their ‘tongue’ or proboscis far down the nectar spur to reach the nectar and at the same time pick up or deposit pollinia, masses of pollen.  Butterflies that pollinate this species include Papilio troilus (spicebush swallowtail), Battus Philenor (pipevine swallowtail), Papilio glaucus (white-lined sphinx mouth), and Phoebis sennae (cloudless sulfur).

Orange fringed orchids flower from July-September but are especially abundant during the month of August. Look for them in the central to northern counties in swampy and woodland habitats. You may be lucky enough to find patches along the roadsides!


Image Sources


Charles said…
Platanthera species are beautiful orchids! How I wish they can be commercialized.
I hear you. At the same time, because they are not commercialized, seeing one growing wild is that much more special! Thanks for your comment.
Anonymous said…
thanks for share.

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