This time of year little orchids can be found blooming in the fields among the grasses and clover. They are green fringed orchids, Platanthera lacera. I found this one just opening its blossoms in the orchard. The plant stands about one foot tall. When the flowers are fully open the plant resembles a bottle brush. Lacera is Latin for “torn” or “ragged” referring to the whiskery labellum or petal-like lower part of the flower.
The green fringed orchid is a perennial preferring acidic soil. It grows in boggy to dry conditions and is a more common orchid of the northeastern US. I have found several in hayfields. Sadly, they tend to get mowed before they can bloom.
We also have purple and yellow fringed orchids here in Maine, but I have never found them on our farm.
The fringed orchids emit fragrance during the night that attracts moths, their pollinators.
It always makes me happy to find one of these orchids when I’m out for a walk in the field.