Field Guides

Orchids of Missouri

  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
    • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
      • Superdivision: Spermatophyta
        • Division: Magnoliophyta
          • Class: Liliopsida
            • Subclass: Liliidae
              • Order: Orchidales/Asparagale
                • Family: Orchidaceae – Orchid family


General Anatomy

Orchids are unique for quite a few reasons, but one of the main reasons is the presence of a lip or labellum. A labellum is a modified petal that usually serves as a landing pad or, in some cases, traps for pollinators. On top of a labellum, an orchid has two more petals, referred to in this article as the lateral petals. On top of the petals, most orchids also have three sepals. Sepals are the leaf-like structures that support most flowers, but in the case of most orchids, look identical to the petals. When the sepals and lateral petals are similar-looking, the orchid is said to have visually similar sepals and lateral petals. On the contrary, orchids can also have visually dissimilar sepals and lateral petals, although even in this case, the sepals often do not look like typical sepals.

Another distinguishing feature of orchids is the column in the center of the flower. In typical flowers, there are usually distinct male and female parts of the flower called the stamen and pistil, respectively. In orchids, however, the stamen and pistil have fused to the point where it is difficult to distinguish between them. This new structure is referred to as a column. Most orchids have a unique structure called an anther cap or a rostellum, which protects the orchid from unintentionally fertilizing its self. Often an insect is required to disturb the anther cap to allow the (often waxy or sticky) pollen to be released and simultaneously stuck to the insect. The pollination of most orchids mostly uses nectar, housed in the nectar spur, sort to attract pollinators, although there are many exceptions. Many orchids trick insects in a variety of ways, from fake pollen-like hairs to vats of water, forcing insects into the column. Although, some orchids have forgone pollination altogether and now exclusively self-pollinate. In any case, the pollination of orchids, in particular, the specifics of each orchid, is very understudied and has a lot to be discovered. (Dodson)

“The presence of the labellum as a landing platform for insect pollinators and the reduction of the stamens and pistil of a flower to a single structure, the column, is certainly the apex of floral adaptation to insects as pollinating agents. Once achieved, this combination provides a foundation for all kinds of specializations for attracting of specific pollinators.”

–Dodson, Calaway H

A final distinguishing feature with orchids is the presence of a symbiotic relationship with fungi. All orchids at some part of their lives are dependent upon a mycorrhizal fungus in their roots to provide them with nutrients. This fungus stays with an orchid for its entire life span, which for some orchids, can be quite a while. One benefit of having such a relationship is many orchids can “hibernate” underground surviving of the fungi for quite a few years. This “hibernation” tactic is not very well understood, and often causes the population to be wildly incorrectly estimated. Some orchids have adapted to depend solely on these fungi and have forgone photosynthesis. Such orchids are referred to as myco-heterotrophic.


Orchids (Orchidaceae) is placed in the order Asparagale and is an incredibly large family of flowers. It is the second-largest family of flowering plants with over 28,000 species and over 700 genera. It can be found on every continent but Antarctica. This family makes up 5-11 % of seeded plants on the planet as has more species than bony fish. An insect fossilized in amber was recently found with orchid pollen attached to its proboscis. This discovery has lead people to believe that this family is much older than initially thought and is most likely at least 15-20 million years old. Some genetic sequencing even hints towards 60-80 million years old. Other methods have lead people to believe it can be as old as 100 million years old, putting orchids well into the cretaceous period. The orchid family is an incredibly old and large family with a unique evolution, with more being learned every day. (Yurtoğlu, Orchidaceae)

Words You May Not Know

Autogamous: means the flower self pollinates.

Basal: This means the leaves of the stem form along the base coming almost directly out of the ground.

Chasmogamous: This means pollination happens in an open flower and usually done through cross-pollination

Cleistogamous: This implies the pollination occurs in a closed flower and as such, is often self-pollinated.

Column: The fused male and female reproductive parts of flowers found in orchids.

Labellum/lip: The modified petal of orchids used for pollinators to land on:

Lateral petals: The non-lip petals of an orchid.

Myco-heterotrophic: meaning this plant uses symbiotic fungi to obtain most of its food.

Non-resupinate: means the orchid doesn’t turn around during development, leaving the labellum point upwards.

Pollinators: insects or animals that carry pollen to other flowers

Resupinate: means the flower develops as it turns upside down, leaving the labellum pointing towards the ground.

Within missouri there are 17 different genera of the Orchidaceae family.

Listed here In alphebetical order



Aplectrum Hyemale, Adam and Eve, Puddy Root

There is only one species in the aplectrum genus, the Aplectrum Hyemale. The Hyemale is usually located in moist forests and slopes. It has one sizeable basal leaf that is not present when the plant is flowering. The sepals and lateral petals have a yellow, green base which spreads to brownish-purple tips and a white lip. These colors often make it challenging to see in its woodland habitat. (Yatskievych)

The name Adam and Eve flower came from the paired corms that are known to appear on the flower. These corms also have a putty consistency leading to the name putty root, which was used as glue by pioneers. (Yatskievych, North )

The aplectrum hyemale does not produce nectar nor a strong scent. As such, the individuals are more often self-pollinated, as the flower doesn’t attract much attention from pollinators. (North)


Stem is 30 – 60 cm long with 6-15 flowers. Sepals and petals are vissually similar and about 15 mm long. (Yatskievych)

Shimono, Masa. “Puttyroot Orchid (Aplectrum Hyemale).” Flickr, 21 May 2016.



Calopogon Oklahomensis

The oklahomensis is one of two flowers of the genus Calopogon found in Missouri. This flower is found in habitats of grassland, prairie, woodland. The color ranges from red-pink, white, and blue-purple, with visually similar lateral petals, labellum, and sepals. The flowers are non-resupinate. A non-resupinate flower is upside down with the labellum on the top. Lebebelum has yellow hair that imitates pollen to attract pollinators. Tends to have 1 or 2 long grass looking leaves. (Yatskievych, North )

The oklahomensis, as with the Tuberosus, use false yellow hairs on the labellum to attract pollinators. When the pollinator lands on the labellum collapse under the weight and drops the pollinator on the column. When the pollinator fall, it collects pollen as well as attaching other flowers pollen on this flower. (North)


Stems are 5-20 centimeers long with 2-7 flowers. Colors include red-pink, white, blue-purple. This orchid has non-resupinate flowers with yellow hairs on the inverted labellum. (Yatskievych)

Calopogonn Tuberosus

The Calopgonn Tuberosus is a very similar flower to the Oklahomensis, except larger and more flowers. Another significant difference is its habitat. The Tuberosus is found in wetter habitats like bogs meadows and swamps. It ranges from pink to white to blue and is non-resupinate. It has visually similar sepals petals and labellum.(Yatskievych, North )

This flower pollinates in the same way as the Oklahomensis with fake pollen on its labellum. The fake pollen attracts pollinators and collapses and drops them onto its pollen. Collecting the pollen on the pollinators as well as depositing its own. (North, Peterson)


This orchid is larger than the Oklahomensis its stem ranges from 20-60 cm and has 3-10 flowers. Each flower opens after the last one approaches the end of its life span. (Yatskievych)

Kitko, Ryan. “Calopogon Tuberosus.” Flickr, 17 May 2014.


Coelogossum viride, Frog orchid

Possible synonyms Dactylorhiza Viridis, Platanthera viridis
Viride is a green flower found in Europe, Asia, and North America. Its petals and labellum are green with purples hues and have sepals that form a hood around the column with the same purple hues. Although, in some cases, the flowers can be completely green, which can make it quite hard to distinguish. This orchid has leaves that form concurrently with the flowers, which can make the flowers and leaves hard to distinguish. It can be found in wet coniferous forests, prairies, meadows, and bogs. (Yatskievych, North )

The pollination techniques of this flower are not very well studied or known. It produces nectar that possibly attracts small wasps or beetles. However, it is likely autogamous as such pollinators can be rare in its habitats.(North)


Stems 20-40 cm long. It has 2-3 main leaves 1-6 cms long and alternating leaves on the flowering stems.

Frank, Jacob N. “Frog Orchid.” Flickr.


Corallorhiza odontorhiza, Autumn Coral Root, Late Coral Root

Odontorhiza is a dark green, brown flower that stays underground most of the year. During the fall, the plant produces small swollen bulbs along the stem; hence its name autumn coralroot. The plant is myco-heterotrophic, meaning it does not obtain many nutrients through photosynthesis but through mycorrhizal fungi. Flowers in this species are often closed (cleistogamous) and are self-pollinated. Although occasionally, open flowers (chasmogamous) can be found through are not very effective as the flower doesn’t do well at attracting pollinators. This species can be found in woodlands and forests.(Yatskievych, North )

This species is self-pollinated as its flowers are cleistogamous or closed. Although chasmogamous flowers have been seen, they do not appear to be very useful as the plant does not have any strategies for attracting pollinators. (North)


Stems range from 5-35 cm, with the base often being swollen. It produces 2-25 flowers that are usually closed though not always. (Yatskievych)

Reis, Larry. “Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza Odontorhiza Var. Ordontorhiza).” Flickr, 29 Aug. 2019.

Corallorhiza wisteriana, Spring Coral Root, Coral Root

Wisteriana it has a reddish-brown stem and produces brown-purple flowers and has a white labellum with purple spots. It is myco-heterotrophic, meaning it does not make energy through its chloroplasts but instead through its mycorrhizal fungi, like other species in its genus. As such, it has no leaves. It can stay dormant underground for long periods, which has caused uncertainty about its actual population size. It can be found in moist forests and floodplains. (Yatskievych, North )

The pollination of this species has not been studied. (North)


This plant has 10-35 cm with 8-20 flowers. Sepals and lateral petals 6-8 mm long and are greenish-purple or rarely yellowish green. Labellum5-6mm long white with purple spots. (Yatskievych )

Kraemer, Andy. “Corallorhiza Wisteriana.” Flickr, 2008.


Cypripedium calceolus, Yellow Lady’s Slipper

Calculus is known as ladies’ slipper because most flowers in this genus have a pouch that looks like a slipper, and this one is yellow. It has a green stem, usually hairy. It produces a couple of large flowers with a very pouchy labellum. It has visually similar, green-brown sepals and lateral petals that twist outwards in spirals. (Yatskievych, North )

This orchid has many pollinators. It has many different sizes and fragrances that have lead to local variations, with some even having exit holes for particular pollinators. These differences have led some experts to believe that this particular species can be split up into quite a few more. (North)


It has stems 15-80 cm long, usually hairy. This orchid has 1-2 yellow flowers and very rarely white flowers. It has 3-6 leaves per stem, which are about 14-20 cm long. Sepals are 2-5 cm long and yellow-green or reddish-purple and twisted.(Yatskievych)

Bonnett, Richard. “2009 Season, Yellow Lady Slippers.” Flickr, 2009.

Cypripedium candidum, White Lady’s Slipper. Small White Lady’s Slipper

Candidum is called white Lady slipper because it has the same appearance as the rest of the flowers in this genus but is white. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals that are reddish-purple to green that twist out away from the center of the flower. It grows in moist, sunny meadows and prairies. (Yatskievych, North )

Long list bees pollinate the orchid. It sprouts early in the year to take advantage of young bees. The bees’ inexperience leads to them struggling to exit the flower, almost guaranteeing contact with the anthers. (North)


Stems 15-40 cm long with 1-2 flowers. 3-4 leaves 5-13 cm long. Sepals are 2-3 cm long and twisted with similar lateral petals. (Yatskievych)

Mayer, Joshua. “ Joshua Mayer Small White Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium Candidum).” Flickr.

Cypripedium reginae, Showy Lady’s Slipper

Reginae has similar experiences to the rest of the flowers in this genus though it is missing the spiral sepals and lateral petals. It has a white fading to pink labellum that forms the pouch-like structure iconic to the genus. Its large leaves are covered in thin hairs that can irritate. It is an incredibly slow-growing plant and can grow for up to 15 years before its first bloom, and can live for up to 50 years. A single plant can produce over 200 flowering stems. It can be found in damp meadows, forests, swamps, and riverbanks. (Yatskievych, North )

This flower is pollinated by many medium-sized bees and can occasionally be by beetles. (North)


Has stems 30-100 cm long and hairy, each having 1-3 flowers. It has large 15-25 cm long leaves with 3-10 per stem. It has similar sepals and lateral petals, white and about 4 cm long. (Yatskievych )

Boardman, Teresa. “Showy Lady Slipper.” Flickr.


Epipactis helleborine, Broad Leaved Helleborine, Helleborine

Helleborine is a non-native orchid. It is originally from Europe but is now found across much of America. It flowers in the late summer and early fall with visually similar, green sepals and lateral petals. It has a white divided labellum with a purple-brown column. It grows in disturbed habitats as well as forests, swamps, and riverbeds. (Yatskievych, North )

Pollination for this flower in America is unknown but pollinated by wasps in Europe.(North)


30-80 cm flowering stems with short hairs. Helleborine has 6-30 flowers per stem and has 3-7 flowers per stem. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals being green and 3-10 cm long. (Yatskievych)

S, Björn. “ Björn S… Broad-Leaved Helleborine – Epipactis Helleborine.” Flickr, 2017.


Galearis spectabilis, Showy Orchid

Spectabills is called showy orchid, and if you look at the picture, you will know why. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals that are bright pink with a long white labellum. The sepals and petals form a hood around the column of the flower. It has two distinctive large basal leaves. (Yatskievych, North )

Many bees pollinate the orchid. The labellum leads to a small spur at the base of the flowers, which contains a drop of nectar. As the pollinator goes for the nectar, the pollen attaches to the bee.(North)


It has a flowering stem that ranges from 7-20 cm long. It has a cluster of fleshy exposed roots. Each stem has 3-12 flowers and 2-3 large basal leaves about 7-20 cm long. This orchid has visually similar sepals and lateral petals each 1-2 cm long.

Brain. “Showy Orchis (Galearis Spectabilis).” Flickr, 5 May 2012.


Goodyera pubescens, Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

Pubescens is a small white orchid. It has large green leaves with unique white veins throughout it that stay mostly green throughout the winter. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals, as well as a pouch-like labellum. It has a sizeable hairy stem. The petals and sepals form a hood around the pouch-like labellum. It can be found in forests and swamps. (Yatskievych, North )

This orchid’s pollinators are not well known. Its known pollinators include a few different sweat bees.(North)


Has a 15-40 cm long and hairy flowering stem. It has 20-50 flowers clustered around the top of the stem. It has 4-10 basal leaves each 3-8 cm long with white veins. (Yatskievych)

Hollinger, Jason. “Downy Rattlesnake Plantain.” Flickr, 25 July 2006.

In the picture below you can see the white viens that are quite unique to Goodyera pubescens.

Beziat, Matthew. “Downy Rattlesnake Plantain.” Flickr, 2017.


Hexalectris spicata Crested Coral Root

Spicatais a small myco-heterotrophic orchid. This means it obtains most of its nutrients through its mycorrhizal fungi, not photosynthesis. It has a brownish-yellow stem with no leaves as it is myco-heterotrophic. The flowers have visually similar sepals and lateral petals, which are yellow with occasionally feint purple strips. it has a purple labellum. It grows in forests and woodlands with limestone or sandstone rich soil. (Yatskievych, North )

This flower is not capable of self-pollination, but its pollinators are not well studied. (North)


Flowering stems are 15-90 cm long and yellow-brown. Each flowering stem contains 8-25 flowers found closer to the top of the stem. It as no leaves. Petals sepals and list all 1-2 cm long, with a large column in the middle. (Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Crested Coral Root (Hexelectris Spicata).” Flickr, 2010.


Isotria medeoloides, Small Whorled Pogonia

Medeoloides is a small green orchid very rarely found in Missouri. It is a threatened species that is only really found currently in a few small populations in the northeastern United States. It has a few small leaves that form on the stem around the flower that looks like a lions mane. It is a small autogamous flower with visually dissimilar sepals and lateral petals, light green lateral petals that form a hood, and dark green sepals. It has a white or pale green labellum. It can be found in young woodlands and forests, in areas with small canopy cover.(Yatskievych, North )

The orchid is autogamous, meaning it self-pollinates, the flowers open, however. Shortly after the flower opens, the pollen comes in contact with the stigma and closes back up.(North)


Flowering stems range from 9-25 cm tall and green. 4-6 flowers can be found per specimen. Sepals 1-2 cm long dark green and oblanceolate. Lateral petals 1-2 cm long pale green or white, and a 1-2 cm long white labellum.(Yatskievych,Peterson)

McAdoo, David. “Isotria medeoloides” Flickr, 2007.

Isotria verticillata, Large Whorled Pogonia

Verticillara is a long skinny orchid found through much of the United States. It has a purplish-brown stem and whorled leaves found around the upper part of the stem, looking like a mane around the flower. It has visually dissimilar sepals and lateral petals, with purple-brown skinny sepals and yellow, green petals. It has a labellum that ranges from yellow to white. It can be found in forests and woodlands and occasionally bogs.(Yatskievych, North )

Many different types of bees pollinate this orchid. It attracts bees by appearing to have nectar but not containing any.(North)


Flowering stems 15-30 cm, tall, and green. 1-2 flowers per flowering stem with 3-6 cm purplish-brown sepals and 1-2 cm greenish-yellow lateral petals. It has a 1-2 cm long yellow, green, white labellum.(Yatskievych)

Hollinger, Jason. “Whorled Pogoniia.” Flickr, 26 Apr. 2011.


Liparis liliifolia, Large Twayblade, Lily Twayblade, Mauve Sleekwort

Liliifolia is a unique orchid. It has a large flat purple and semi-transparent labellum. Its sepals and lateral petals are long, slender, and almost string-like. It has large glossy basal leaves that usually come in pairs. It can be found in most forests and floodplains.(Yatskievych, North)

Pollination of this orchid is not very well known. It is speculated to be pollinated by unspecialized insects, due to its large column, its possible large insects would also transfer the pollen.(North)


Flowering stems are 10-30 cm long with 5-30 flowers per stem. It has to green basal leaves 5-15 cm long and is often glossy. Sepals green 1 cm long skinny and have stem/bone-like appearance. Lateral petals 1 meter long and purple skinny and calls to the side like string. Labellum 1 cm long wide and flat, purple, and translucent.(Yatskievych, Peterson)

Whaley, Brett. “Liparis Liliifolia.” Flickr, June 2019.

McGrady, Doug. “ Doug McGrady Liparis Liliifolia (Lily-Leaved Wide-Lipped Orchid), Lyme, CT.” Flickr.

Liparis loeselii, Loesel’s Wide Lipped Orchid, Loesel’s Tway Blade, Fen Orchid

Loeselii is a small green orchid. Similar to other species in this genus, it has two large basal leaves that appear glossy. It has many small flowers green flowers as well as a semi-translucent labellum that can be found in other species of this genus. It can be found in meadows fens and bogs as well as riverbeds and disturbed areas.(Yatskievych, North,Peterson)

This flower is autogamous and as such, does not need pollinators. (North)


Has 10-25 cm long flowering stems, each with 2-15 flowers. It has 2-3 basal leaves, each 8-15 cm long and glossy. It has small flowers with sepals, only 5 mm long and yellowish-green, with similarly colored 5mm lateral petals. It has a 5mm yellow, green labellum but is also semi-translucent.(Yatskievych)

Worthington, Len. “Fen Orchid Liparis Loeselii.” Flickr.


Malaxis unifolia, Green Adder’s Mouth

Unifolia is a green orchid known as Green Adder’s Mouth. It has two large green leaves found about halfway up the stem. Each flowering stem contains up to 150 small green flowers. It flowers in mid-spring to late summer and can be found swamps and bogs but can be found in drier woodlands and forests.(Yatskievych, North )

This orchid is pollinated by many different flies, including mosquitoes and gnats, as well as wasps.(North)


It has flowering stems 8-35 cm long, each with 50-150 flowers. It has green 1-2mm sepals with similar 1mm green lateral petals. It has a 1-3 mm long labellum green with two lobes.(Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Malaxis Unifolia – Left Plant with 2 Leaves.” Flickr.


Platanthera ciliaris, Orange Fringed Bog Orchid, Yellow Fringed Orchid

Ciliaris is an orange orchid that has led to the name orange fringed bog orchid. It is a tall orchid that contains up to 100 small showy orange orchids. This orchid grows 2-4 leaves that develop periodically on the stem and visually similar sepals and lateral petals. It also has a large, very frilled labellum. It can be found in marshes, moist meadows, bogs, woodlands as well as roadsides.(Yatskievych, North )

Butterflies pollinate this orchid as they look for nectar. As they reach their proboscis for the nectar, the sticky pollen is attached to their eyes.(North)


It has a flowering stem 45-100 cm long, with 30-100 flowers on each flowering stem. It has 2-4 leaves that form along the stem of the flower. It has sepals that range from 5-10mm long and petals only 5 mm long. It has a labellum 10-15 mm long orange and very frilled.(Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Platanthera cillaris” Flickr.

Platanthera clavellata, Little Club Spur Bog Orchid

Clavellata is a greenish-white orchid found in Missouri. It has about three small leaves per flowering stem. The orchid’s flowers contain visually similar sepals and lateral petals, both green fading into white. It also has a small three-lobed labellum. It can be found in bogs moist meadows, prairies, marshes, swamps, and woodlands as well as disturbed habitats.(Yatskievych, North )

This orchid is capable of self-pollination but not strictly autogamous as it has been observed being visited by insects.(North)


This orchid has flowering stems ranging from 10-45 cm long, each with 3-15 flowers per stem. It has small flowers with the sepals only 5 mm long pale green and yellow as well as lateral petals 5 mm long, also green and yellow. It also has a labellum 5-15 mm long with three distinct obes and white.(Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Platanthera clavellata” Flickr, 2007.

Platanthera lacera, Ragged Fringed Orchid, Ragged Orchid


Platanthera flava, pale green orchid, tubercled orchid

Flava is commonly known as the tubercled orchid or bog orchid. Each flowering stem contains lots of small green inconspicuous flowers. This orchid has visually similar green lateral petals and sepals and a slightly lighter green labellum. Flava can be found in meadows floodplains, forests, swamps, and marshes.(Yatskievych, North )

This orchid is pollinated primarily by mosquitos and some moths. Finding the source of the nectar on this flower can be difficult for the pollinators, so they often search the flower for quite a while.(North)


Flowering stems are 10-60 cm long with 10-50 flowers per stem. It has 2-5 cm per flowering stem. It has small flowers with sepals only being 2-4 mm long and green and lateral petals also 2-4 mm and yellow-green. It has a 3-6mm labellum.(Yatskievych)

Davis, Joe. “ Florida Fish and Wildlife Platanthera Flava.” Flickr, Florida Fish and Wildlife.

Platanthera leucophaea, Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid

Leucophaea is called the eastern prairie fringed orchid. Each flowering stem produces many small flowers with a very unique, white, labellum. This orchid’s labellum has three very distinct lobes, each very frilled. The flower has visually similar white or light-green lateral petals and sepals. It can be found in moist prairies, meadows, bogs, and marshes.(Yatskievych, North )

This orchid is pollinated by various moths that get the sticky pollen stuck on there proboscis when the go for the nectar in the nectar spur.(North)


Flowering stems are 40-120 cm long with 18-30 flowers per flowering stem. It has white or light green lateral petals about 1 cm long with similar sized and colored sepals. It has a white lip 1-2 cm long with three lobes, each lobe being wide and very frilled.(Yatskievych)

Mayer, Joshua. “Eastern Prairie White Fringed Orchid (Platanthera Leucophaea) ~Wisconsin Endangered, Federally Threatened~.” Flickr, 2011.

Platanthera peramoena, Purple Fringeless Orchid

Peramoena is called purple fringeless orchid, and its a pretty good description of the flower. It is a purple flower with three large lobes on the labellum, each being slightly frilled. It can be found in woodlands, forests, meadows, marshes, and swamps. It benefits from disturbances that cause gaps in the tree canopy.(Yatskievych, North )

Many different butterflies and moths pollinate this orchid. Hemaris thysbe (hummingbird moth) is thought to be its primary pollinator due to similarities in the compound eyes and the flower distances.(North)


Flowering stems are 30-90 cm long, each with 20-50 flowers per stem. Each flowering stem has 2-5 leaves. It has a small purple-pink flower with the sepals being 5-10 mm long and pink with similar lateral petals 5-8 mm long. It has a 1-2 cm long labellum, each with three lobes that are each partly frilled.(Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Platanthera Peramoena – Closeup – DRM.” Flickr.

McAdoo, David. “Platanthera Peramoena.” Flickr.

Platanthera praeclara, Great Plains White Fringed Orchid, Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

Praeclara is a white flower called the great plains white fringed orchid or the western prairie fringed orchid. It has visually similar lateral petals and sepals that tend to be white and form a hood over the column. The labellum is characteristic of other orchids in this genus with a large three-lobed labellum, each lobe being heavily fringed.(Yatskievych, North )

A variety of moths pollinates this orchid. The pollen gets attached to the pollinator’s eyes as it reachers for the nectar in the center of the flower.(North)


Flowering stems range from 25-85 cm long with 8-20 flower per stem and 3-6 leaves per stem. It has flowers with sepals about 10-15 mm long and similar lateral petal 10-15 mm long, both creamy white and form a hood over the column. The labellum is 2-3 cm long with three lobes and very fringed,(Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Platanthera praeclara.” Flickr.

Platanthera psycodes, Lesser Purple Fringed Bog Orchid, Small Purple Fringed Orchid

Psycodes is called the called purple fringed orhchid. It has the labellum that is charectristic of the genus, it has a three lobed orchid each heavilly frilled. It has vissually similar lateral petals and sepals that form a hood over the column. The primary differince that seperats this flower from other in its genus is its dense inflorescence of 50 -100 flowers. It is primarly found it wet habitats like swampy forests, marshes, meadows and riverbanks.(Yatskievych, North)

This orchid is pollinated by a variaty of moths and butterflies. The pollen is stuck to the probuscus when the pollinator reaches for the nector.(North)


Flowering stem 30-90 cm long each with 25-40 flowers per flowering stem. Each stem has 2-5 small leaves around the alternating around the stem. It has small flowers with vissually similar sepals and lateral petals pink-purple and form a hood over the column. It has a 5-10 mm labellum with three lobes each frilled.(Yatskievych,Peterson)

McAdoo, David. “Platanthera psycodes.” Flickr.


Pogonia ophioglossoides, Rose Pogonia, Snake Mouth

Ophioglossoides is called rose pagonia or snake mouth. It tends to have one sizeable, beautiful flower, though it can occasionally 2 or 3. It tends to have one large leave about halfway up the stem. Its sepals and lateral petals are visually similar. Its lateral petals and sepals are short and pink and stick out to the sides of the flower. It has a large rugged-looking labellum that has little hairs then can make it look like it has a beard. It can be found in wet habitats, including prairies, meadows, woodlands, swamps, and riverbanks. This flower reacts particularly well to fire restoration, it was approaching extinction until fire restoration began, particularly in fens. (Yatskievych, North )

This orchid is pollinated by a variety of different bees. As the pollinator searches for the flower’s nectar, the pollinator brushes the anther and gets attached to the bees’ head. The hairs on the labellum deceive the pollinators as they appear like stamens.(North)


This is a small orchid with a flowering stem 8-35 cm long with one and occasionally 2 or 3 flowers per stem. It has one large leaf found close to the base of the stem, usually 3-9 cm long. It has relatively large flowers with sepals 15-20 mm long and pink and similarly sized and shaped lateral petals. It has a reasonably large labellum 15-20 mm long with fringed margins with yellows hairs that begin to turn pink towards the edges of the lip.(Yatskievych,Peterson)

Bouchard, Philip. “Rose Pagonia.” Flickr, 20 May 2016.


Spiranthes cernua, Nodding Ladies’ Tresses, Common Ladies’ Tresses

Cernua is a small green plant with white flowers called ladies tresses. It produces a rosette of basal leaves that die when the plant begins to flower. It produces small white flowers that can rarely be found in yellow or green. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals for a tube around the column. It has a small labellum that pokes out just a little bit at the end of the tube. It can be found in woodlands, bogs, marshes, and fens as well as riverbanks and disturbed habitats. (Yatskievych, North )

This orchid is capable of self-pollination but not strictly autogamous. A variety of bees pollinates it in search of nectar in the flowers. The older flowers at the bottom tend to have more nectar.(North)


Flowering stems 10-50 cm long with sparse hairs on the stem. 3-6 basal leaves (5-23cm) form a rosette that usually dies during flowering time. Similar sepals and lateral petals 6-11 mm long and white, forming a tube around the column. 8-11 mm long labellum white usually just barely longer than sepals/petals.(Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Spiranthes Cernua Group Close-Up.” Flickr, 2006.

Spiranthes lacera, Slender Ladies’ Tresses

Lacera is a small green plant with white flowers called slender ladies tresses. It can be found in most of the United States and even southern parts of Canada. This orchid is vissually similar to other species in this genus. It has basal leaves and small white flowers with visually similar sepals and lateral petals. The flowers form in a unique spiral going down the stem. The main difference in this species is a green spot on its labellum and very slightly teethed edges. It can be found in meadows, fields, prairies, and disturbed areas. (Yatskievych, North )

A variety of tongued bees pollinates this orchid. The plant focuses on solely distributing pollen for a few days and then dedicates solely to receiving pollen.(North)


Flowering stems range from 10-55 cm long wand hairy. 2-4 basal leaves 1-4 cm long absent at flowering. Visually similar sepals and lateral petals usually white and 3-6 mm long. Labellum 5-6 mm long with slightly toothed margins and a green spot in the middle.(Yatskievych, Peterson)

Reynolds, Fritz Flohr. “Spiranthes Lacera – Slender Ladies Tresses, Detail.” Flickr, 1 Aug. 2013.

Spiranthes lucida, Shining Ladies’ Tresses, Yellow Lipped Ladies’ Tresses

Lucida is a small green plant with even smaller white flowers commonly known as shining ladies tresses. It is usually found with flossy basal leaves which stay present throughout the year. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals that are white and form a hood around the column. It can be distinguished from the similar-looking flowers in this genus by the yellow labellum. It can be found in fens and moist woodlands as well as along riverbanks. (Yatskievych, North)

Its pollination is done by secreting its nectar into the center of the column, which favors pollination by short-tongued bees.(North)


Flowering stems 10-40 cm long with few hairs — 3-5 basal leaves present year-long 3-11 cm. Visually similar sepals and lateral petals usually white and 4-6 mm long. Labellum 4-6 mm long white with yellow on the middle inside of the petal.(Yatskievych)

Plantdude915. “Spiranthes Lucida Salmon River 5.” Flickr, 26 June 2012.

Spiranthes magnicamporum, Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses

Magnicamporum has a similar look to the rest of the orchids in the genus. It has a green stem with many small white flowers. It often has a couple of basal leaves that die by the time the flowers begin to bloom. The flowers have visually similar white sepals and lateral petals. It has a white labellum with a yellowish hint on the inside that turns sharper than others in this genus. It can be found in meadows, prairies, and fens. (Yatskievych, North, Peterson )

This orchid is pollinated usually by a variety of bumblebees. Although it is also capable of agamospermy, meaning it can produce seeds with unfertilized eggs.(North)


Flowering stems are 10-60 cm long and slightly hairy 40-50 flowers per stem. It has 2-4 basal leaves 5-15 cm long that die before flowering time. Visually similar white sepals and lateral petals 7-11mm long. Labellum 8-10 mm long and white with a slight yellow tinge on the inside.(Yatskievych)

Mayfield, Frank. “ Frank Mayfield Spiranthes Magnicamporum GREAT PLAINS LADIES’ TRESSES.” Flickr, 14 Sept. 2009.

Carlson, Aaron. “Great Plains Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes Magnicamporum).” Flickr, 24 Sept. 2011.

Spiranthes ovalis, Lesser Ladies’ Tresses, Oval Ladies’ Tresses

Ovalis looks similar to the rest of the species in this genus, having a green stem with small white flowers. This species tends to have mora basal leaves per stem, and they last through the flowering. Flowers form in a tight spiral that can leave a unique “corn-looking” pattern along the stem. Visually similar white sepals and lateral petals form a hood over the column. Its labellum is white and bears no marking, unlike a lot of this genus. One more difference is its preference for wooded habitats, being found in woodlands and forests usually in thickets, and occasionally on the edges of marshes. (Yatskievych, North )

Pollination of this orchid is not well known. However, it is believed to be pollinated by bees except for some variety which self pollinate.(North)


Flowering stems 15-40 cm long with hairs, 40-50 flowers per stem. 2-3 basal leaves present through flowering time 5-23 cm long. Visually similar white sepals and lateral petals 3-5 mm long. Labellum 4-5 mm long and white. (Yatskievych)

McAdoo, David. “Spiranthes Ovalis – Close Up.” Flickr, 2015.

Spiranthes tuberosa, Little Ladies’ Tresses

Tuberosa has the same green stem white flowers as the rest of the genus. It has basal leaves that die when the flowers begin to bloom. It has visually similar white sepals and lateral petals that form a hood around the column. It has a white labellum with no markings or colors other than white and is slightly frilled. The flowers form a loose spiral around the stem. It can be found in prairies meadows, forests, and woodlands. (Yatskievych, North )

This orchid’s pollination is not well known though believed to be pollinated by bees, specifically bumblebees.(North)


Flowering stem 15-50 cm long and smooth. 2-5 basal leaves 1-3 cm long that die during flowering time. Visually similar sepals and lateral petals 3-4.5 mm long forming a hood. Labellum 2.5-3.5 mm long with toothed margins towards the end white without any markings.(Yatskievych, Peterson)

McGrady, Doug. “Spiranthes Tuberosa (Little Ladies’-Tresses), Barnstable, MAd.” Flickr, 20 Aug. 2017.

Spiranthes vernalis, Spring Ladies’ Tresses, Twisted Ladies’ Tresses

Vernalis has the same look as the rest of the orchids in this genus, green stem, and small white flowers. This species is the largest of the Spiranthes in Missouri. It has basal leaves that stay present during flowering. It has visually similar sepals and lateral petals that are white and form a hood around the column. Its labellum has an orange or brown spot near the center and tends to small hairs. The flowers form a spiral around the stem that can range from quite tight to very loose. It can be found in meadows, prairies, fields, roadsides, and occasionally bogs. (Yatskievych, North )

It is pollinated by bees in search of nectar, specifically by a variety of bumblebees and honey bees. (North)


Flowering stems 50-100 cm long with short hairs. 4-6 basal leaves per flowering stem each 5-26 cm long. Visually similar sepals and lateral petals 6-10 mm long and white, forming a hood. Labellum 6-9 mm long with toothed edges with yellow to brown spots in the inside center. (Yatskievych)

Davis, Joe. “Spiranthes vernalis closeup.” Flickr, Florida Fish and Wildlife.

McAdoo, David. “Spiranthes vernalis – closeup.” Flickr, 2015.


Tipularia discolor, Cranefly Orchid

Discolor is found throughout much of the United States. It has a unique characteristic of a single leaf that stays green throughout the winter with a slight purple underside. The flower is reasonably large nectar spurs in the base of the flower. The sprouts of these flowers are often found on decomposing logs and woodchips, so there may be a correlation with the fungi doing the decomposing. (North, Steymark)

This orchid is pollinated by a variety of moths. As the moth reaches for the nectar, it removes the anther cap, and the pollinaria are attached to the insects’ eyes. (North)


This orchid has a 30-60 cm flowering stem with 20-40 flowers per stem. This orchid 1 large basal leaf 5-10 cm that stays present year-round. Visually similar sepals and lateral petals 4-8 mm long and greenish-purple. The labellum is 4-8 mm long with 3 lobes with the center lobe having 2 smaller lobes on it. (Steymark)

McAdoo, David. “Tipularia discolor – x.” Flickr, July 21st, 2015.


Triphora trianthophoros, Three Birds Orchid, Nodding Pogonia

Trianthophoros is the only one of its genus found in Missouri. It is called the Three Birds Orchid due to its triple lobbed labellum. The labellum also has greenish areas towards the center of the labellum. It has visually similar, white lateral petals and sepals, but the lateral petals form a hood around the column. It can be found in forests, woodlands, thickets, and swamps. (Steymark, North)

Pollination in this orchid is done primarily by bees and a couple of bumblebees. The insect removes the anther cap when searching for the nectar housed at the base of the labellum. (North)


These orchids flowering stems are 8-30 cm long with 2-6 flowers per flowering stem. 3-8 leaves 6-18 mm long alternating around the purple-green stem. Visually similar sepals and lateral petals each 10-15 mm long. Labellum 10-15 mm long with 3 lobes with a greenish center. (Steymark)

McAdoo, David. “Triphora trianthophora – closeup.” Flickr, 2007.


Yatskievych, George, and Julian A. Steyermark. Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri. Missouri Dep. of Conservation, 2006.

North American Orchid Conservation Center, 2011,

Berry, Paul E., et al. “Fabales.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 4 June 2018.

Dodson, Calaway H. “Orchid.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 May 2019.

Brown, Paul Martin. Wild Orchids of the Prairies and Great Plains Region of North America. University Press of Florida, 2006.

Peterson, Roger Tory, et al. F Field Guide to Wild Flowers of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, 1968.

“Orchidaceae.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Nov. 2019.

Yurtoğlu, Nadir. “” History Studies International Journal of History, vol. 10, no. 7, 2018, pp. 241–264., doi:10.9737/hist.2018.658.

“Classification: USDA PLANTS.” Classification | USDA PLANTS, 13 Dec. 2019.

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