Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Small Green Wood Orchid - Platanthera clavellata   (Michaux) Luer
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Section 5 » Order Orchidales » Family Orchidaceae
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Author(Michaux) Luer
DistributionEssentially statewide, but of spotty occurrence in the Coastal Plain, and less spotty in the Piedmont. Recorded from all Mountain and Sandhills counties. It perhaps occurs in all 100 counties.

This orchid has a very wide range across eastern North America. It ranges from eastern Canada south to the FL Panhandle and eastern TX; it has been recorded from all states in the eastern half of the US, though is scarce from OH west to IA and MO.
AbundanceThis is the most numerous Platanthera species in the state, being fairly common in the Mountains and Sandhills, but uncommon and easily overlooked in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis is a species of damp to wet ground, usually in shaded situations. It occurs in damp spots in bottomland forests, drier swamps, small stream swamps, boggy wooded streamsides, blackwater streamheads, seepages, and bogs. Often occurs with/beneath Cinnamon Ferns.
PhenologyHas a moderately wide flowering period from June into September, and fruits shortly after blooming.
IdentificationThis is one of the more easily overlooked orchid species in the state, despite the fact it might occur in all counties. It is a short species for a Platanthera, growing normally just to 9-12 inches high; it normally has just one to rarely two leaves coming off the lower part of the stem. The inflorescence is not only short -- often just 1-2 inches high and as wide or wider -- but it contains relatively few flowers, which happen to be pale yellowish green (to blend in with the background!). Each flower is only about 1/4-inch across, though it does have a moderately long spur; however, the small lip is not fringed. It should generally be easily identified by inexperienced biologists owing to the relatively few flowers, which are small and light yellowish green, and the habit of growing in damp to wet shady places.
Taxonomic CommentsThis and nearly all other Platanthera species in the state were formerly in the genus Habenaria.

Other Common Name(s)This species has never had a widely agreed upon common name, unlike most orchids. In fact, many references use four words for the name, including this website; a few even use five words! Among the many other names are Club-spur Orchid, Little Club Spur Orchid, Little Club Spur Bog Orchid, and Small Woodland Orchid.
State RankS4
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieWet streamhead, Whispering Pines, 11 July 2023. MoorePhoto_natural
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