North American Orchids
|Additional Flower Resources
Types of Orchids
Types of Flowers
Flora of North America lists 208 orchid species divides into 70 genera. The United States Department of Agriculture Plants Data base lists 126 genera in Orchidaceae. The estimate range highlights the taxonomy problematic botanists confront on a year to year basis as they continue their Orchidaceae research.
Platanthera, the genera with the largest amount of species, approximately four dozen, generally go by the common name fringed orchids. Fringed orchids extend their range across the entire North American continent.
Two species, the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) and the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara) are listed on the endangered species, due primarily to the conversion of native prairies and grasslands to agriculture lands.
Where they survive, they tend to stand out in a crowd, growing up to four feet in height, and covered by multiple white flowers.
A popular indoor and garden orchid, the Yellow-fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) thrive in both sun and partial shade areas. They prefer slightly acid soils (pH from 5 to 6).
Growing up to three feet in height, flower color ranges from bright yellow to deep orange.
The white bog orchid (Platanthera dilatata) grows across the northern part of the United States. Along the West Coast, it grows, often abundantly in wet and sunny mountain meadows.
The picture highlights the white flowers growing on a sturdy green spike. Additional small white spikes appear in the background.
Fifteen Cypripedium species better known as Lady's Slippers based on the physical appearance of the flower grow in North American forests and fields.
Physical appearance makes flowers in the genus sufficiently popular to be designated as the official provincial flower of Prince Edward Island (Cypripedium acaule) and Minnesota (Cypripedium reginae).
Spiranthes, a genus with approximately thirty species, get identified by the presents of small, spiraled flowers along the top of the stem.
The Hooded Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) breaks that mold, with the most widespread distribution of all the Spiranthes species. It can be found in meadows and bogs at both low and high altitudes in much of the Northern areas of the United States.
Another robust North American orchid genus, reed orchids (Epidendrum), native new world orchids, inhabit areas of the Southeast south to South America.
The Green Fly Orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae), the widest ranging species produces clusters of flowers at the end of the stem. Because of their ease of growth, many species are popular house plants.
Rattlesnake Plantain refers to a genus (Goodyera) fairly common orchids that grow on forest floors across North America, including Canada and Alaska.
Four different species have been identified. While the small white flowers on the thin stem often do not stand out in a crowded forest floor, its green striped leaves make it easily identifiable when the plant is not in bloom.
Most flowers bloom during the summer season.
Ten Piperia species inhabit western ecosystems. The Alaska Rein Orchid or Slender Spire Orchid,(Piperia unalascensis), the most common Piperia, also grows in small population in eastern Canada.
A fairly inconspicuous plant, the short, thin stem provides the initial field identification clue, rather than the small green flowers.
Moving away from orchid genera with large numbers of species, most native North American genera follow the pattern of the fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa), the sole represents the genus in North America.
Similar in physical appearance to the Lady's Slipper, it blooms in spring. As a small flowering plant that grows among old growth trees, it does not transplant well for home or garden use.
© 2009-2012 Patricia A. Michaels