General: Orchid Family (Orchidaceae). This plant is a native, perennial herb. The upright stems will grow 30 cm to 1m tall. The roots are tuberous or fleshy. The plant has numerous lance-shaped leaves. The lower leaves are about 30 cm long, 3 to 6 cm wide, with smaller leaves toward the top. The plants have showy spikes (5 to 20 cm long) of loosely clustered flowers. The flowers grow in racemes, opening from bottom to top. The flowers can be bright yellow through apricot to deep orange. The lower petal or lip of the flower is linear-oblong (8 to 12 mm long, 2-3 m wide) with long ciliated fringe (12 to 16 mm long). The spurs are 20 to 33 mm long. Blooming time is variable, but usually from late June in the North to late September in the South.
Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: The plants are native to sphagnum and sedge bogs, swamps, marshes, wet sandy barrens, thickets on borders of streams and ponds, moist woods, wet meadows, prairies, and in deep humus of upland forests in the Eastern United States and Canada.
Orange-plume, orange-fringe, bobwhite’s moccasin, owl’s head. This plant is referred to as Blephariglotis ciliaris (L.) Rydb. or Habenaria ciliaris (L.) R. Br. ex Ait., in much of the older literature.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Ontario (historic) and New Hampshire (historic), south to south Florida, west to Michigan, Missouri, and Texas (Kartesz 1999).
Comments: Tolerant of a wide variety of habitats; from wet, humus areas to dry rocky mountain slopes.
Yellow-fringed orchids are attractive and easier to grow than most fringed orchids. They do well in either partial shade or full sun. The plants grow in slightly acid soils with a pH from 5 to 6.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Orange-Fringed Orchid in Illinois
(butterflies and Sphinx moths suck nectar; observations are from Smith & Snow; this plant is also called the 'Yellow-Fringed Orchid')
Nymphalidae: Danaus plexippus sn; Lycaenidae: Satyrium liparops strigosum sn; Papilionidae: Papilio glaucus sn, Papilio troilus sn fq
Sphingidae: Hyles lineata sn
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: Frequent in the southeast. In NC and SC it is found in 18 counties in the mountains and approximately 40 counties on the coastal plain.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Platanthera ciliaris
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Platanthera ciliaris
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NX - Presumed Extirpated
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and occuring in a variety of habitats. Frequent in the southeast, only becoming rare at the northern edge of its range (McCance and Burns 1984, Homoya 1993, Weakley 2000).
This plant may be listed as threatened in your state. This rare plant is threatened by loss of habitat, harvesting, and changes in land management practices, such as fire suppression, in much of its native range. It is listed as threatened by many states and is probably locally extinct in Canada. It is also listed in Appendix II of the CITES database of threatened plants. Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Comments: In the northern portion of its range, threatened by shading due to succession, alterations to hydrology, collection, and roadside mowing (McCance and Burns 1984, Homoya 1993).
Pests and potential problems
The plants need to be protected from slugs, snails, and cutworms.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
These plant materials are not readily available from commercial sources. However, there are specialty growers who are propagating this plant. Do not harvest these plants from the wild as they are threatened throughout most of their range.
Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Ethnobotanic: The Cherokee and Seminoles as well as other Native American tribes in the Eastern United States used the yellow-fringed orchid for medicinal and other purposes. The roots were used to make infusions to treat diarrhea. The roots were also used to treat snakebites. A cold infusion of the root was taken to relieve headaches. A piece of the root was used on fishhooks to “make the fish bite better.” In Florida, it was known as “rattle snake’s master” and was used both internally and externally to treat snakebite.
Platanthera ciliaris, commonly known as the yellow fringed orchid yellow-fringed orchid, or orange-fringed orchid, is a large and showy species of orchid. It grows in "acid soil of hillside seepage bogs" in the longleaf pine landscapes of the Gulf Coast. Like many species in these habitats, including flatwoods, it is dependent upon recurring fire to create open conditions. Further north it is found in bogs, but even here it may be dependent upon fire to create open conditions. 
It is pollinated by large butterflies, mostly swallowtails.
The species is at risk in some areas from loss of habitat and collecting. For example, it is endangered in Michigan. It has been recorded from extreme southern Ontario, but is now thought to be extirpated.
- Liggio, J. and Liggio, A.O. 1999. Wild Orchids of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin. 228 p.
- Keddy, Paul A. (2008). Water, Earth, Fire: Louisiana's Natural Heritage. Philadelphia: Xlibris. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4363-6234-4.
- M.R. Penskar and S.R. Crispin. 2004. Special plant abstract for Platanthera ciliaris (yellow fringed-orchid). Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Lansing, MI. 3 pp
- Oldham, M.J., and S.R. Brinker. 2009. Rare Vascular Plants of Ontario, Fourth Edition. Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 188 pp
Hybrids of Platanthera ciliaris with P. blephariglottis are P. × bicolor (Rafinesque) Luer and with P. cristata are P. × channellii Folsom; until recently the latter was confused with P. chapmanii (J. P. Folsom 1984).
EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!