Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Purple Fringeless Orchid - Platanthera peramoena   (A. Gray) A. Gray
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Section 5 » Order Orchidales » Family Orchidaceae
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Author(A. Gray) A. Gray
DistributionPresent over most of the mountains, and scattered eastward in the northern Piedmont east to Warren, Franklin, and Wake counties. Not known south of Wake and Burke counties.

This is a species of mid-latitudes in the eastern US, ranging north only to NJ, PA, central IL, and southeastern MO, and south only to central AL and central MS. It essentially does not occur on the Coastal Plain except in NJ and DE.
AbundanceGenerally rare, in both the mountains and the northern third of the Piedmont. However, within the Piedmont, most records are clustered in the northeastern portion from Warren to Orange counties, and it is very rare between Orange County and the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It is listed as a State Threatened species.
HabitatThis is an orchid of damp to wet soil, in a variety of settings. It is most frequently found in pools in bottomland forests or wet areas along forested streams, but it can be found in seepages, moist meadows, and bogs.
See also Habitat Account for General Broadleaf Herbaceous Mires
PhenologyBlooms mainly in July and August, rarely from June to as late as October. It fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of the state's showiest orchids when in full bloom. The stems are about 2-2.5 feet tall on average, with several ascending leaves along the stem. The top 5-6 inches of the stem contain the rather open cluster of about 20-25 bright rose-purple flowers, each about 1 inch across. Unlike the other purple or rose-colored Platanthera species, this one has no fringes on the three parts of the lip; each section is simply fan-shaped without any deep serrations. At a distance, the plant looks quite like a Phlox species when in bloom; however, up close the flower looks nothing like a phlox flower (with its five petals). A few NC populations contain 20 or more individuals, though mostly it is found just as singles or a few plants in a given pool or seepage.
Taxonomic CommentsNone, other than formerly it was named as Habenaria peramoena.

Other Common Name(s)Purple Spire Orchid. Unlike other purple orchid species, this one has near unanimous agreement in the usage of Purple Fringeless Orchid as its common name.
State RankS2 *
Global RankG5
State StatusT
US Status
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