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Because of its greenish flowers, this orchid doesn't stand out from the background to the same extent as more colorful orchids in its genus. However, it has a delicate beauty that is peculiarly its own. While there are many orchids in the Midwest that have greenish flowers, this orchid is the only one with a deeply fringed lower lip. Compared to the similar Platanthera leucophaea (Prairie White-Fringed Orchid), the Green-Fringed Orchid has a lower lip with more narrow and insubstantial lobes (this applies particularly to the central lobe). Other species in this genus, e.g. Platanthera blephariglottis (White-Fringed Orchid) and Platanthera ciliaris (Orange-Fringed Orchid), have fringed lower lips that are not divided into major lobes. Thus, not only color, but also subtle differences in floral structure, are important in the identification of an orchid species in this interesting genus.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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