Platanthera leucophaea
Prairie white-fringed orchid
Image of Platanthera leucophaea

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

More Images

Key Characteristics

Stout orchid (up to 1 m) of wet prairies and bogs; stem leafy, with larger lanceolate leaves at base; flowers creamy-white and 3-parted with a prominently fringed lower lip, clustered on a terminal stalk.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • US Status: LT
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G2G3


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair22006
St. Joseph12016
Distribution map for Platanthera leucophaea

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.


Eastern prairie fringed orchid is found in moist alkaline and lacustrine soils. It is primarily found in moist prairie remnants, particularly those associated with lakeplains, but it can also occur in open or semi-open bogs and peaty lakeshores. Though rare, this orchid can readily colonize highly disturbed sites like ditches, unmowed old fields, and even the edges of golf courses as long as competition is not overly intense and proper soil fungi are present.

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

Bluejoint grass, cordgrass, rush, sedges, twig-rush, shrubby cinquefoil, swamp milkweed, big bluestem, Indian grass, Sullivant's milkweed, purple milkweed, swamp thistle, eastern prairie fringed orchid, marsh blazing star, whorled loosestrife, grass-of-Parnassus, smooth hedge nettle, swamp rose, Missouri ironweed, joe-pye weed, common bone set, spike-rush, little blue stem, prairie slough grass, flax, dogwoods, and hardstem bulrush. In bogs, it may also be associated with Sphagnum moss, sedges, leatherleaf, bog rosemary, cotton grass, swamp-laurel, three-leaved false Solomon's seal, Labrador tea, black spruce, chokecherry, tamarack, and bog birch.


This species requires the maintenance of natural hydrological cycles and open habitat. Activities such as shrub removal are likely to benefit the species, but other management such as prescribed fire is not well understood. Caution and proper monitoring should be employed if using prescribed fire in occupied habitat. Spring fires should be conducted prior to emergence (mid-April). Poaching is also a threat.

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 22, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

Facebook link