Plants and Animals
Platanthera leucophaea Prairie white-fringed orchid
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
US Status: LT - Listed Threatened
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G2G3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled
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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.
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.
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.
Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.
Survey Period: From third week of June to third week of July
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