Platanthera unalascensis
Alaska orchid
Image of Platanthera unalascensis

Photo by Dennis A. Albert 

Key Characteristics

Small orchid (20-50 cm) of shallow soils over limestone; leaves lanceolate and spreading; flowers translucent green, tiny (5 mm), in a dense terminal spike.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: SC
  • State Rank: S2S3
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Platanthera unalascensis

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Alaska orchid is found in coastal conifer forests and glades dominated by northern white cedar, white spruce, and balsam fir. It is restricted to the eastern edge of Upper Peninsula, and is especially found on Drummond Island.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

White spruce, balsam-fir, white-cedar, paper birch, ground juniper, bearberry, rice-grass, bunchberry, big-leaved aster, northern ragwort, wild sarsaparilla, spurred gentian, and pinedrops.


The species requires protection of habitat and natural disturbance (wind throw) and hydrological regimes.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 24, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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