Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid

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Older scientific names for Platanthera cristata include:  Blephariglottis cristata, Habenaria cristata.
Other common names include Crested Orange Bog Orchid.

This plant is on the The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program "List of Endangered Plant Species and Plant Species of Concern". For more information click "More info" button above or just scroll down to the bottom.

Platanthera cristata, yellow crested orchid, is a native herbaceous perennial plant that grows in the bogs and swamps of the pinebarrens. It blooms in mid July, August.

Flowers

The small yellow-orange flowers grow in a cluster that forms a spike (flowers are sessile) on a slender upright stalk. There can be 20 to 80 flowers in a cluster. Each flower has three sepals that are rounded and have smooth margins. It has 3 petals. The 2 lateral petals are slightly fringed. The third petal, lip/labellum, is highly fringed. A spur is connected to the back of the lip that contains nectar.

The first photo in this section shows a flower cluster where the bracts and the relative lengths of the spurs can be seen. The spur is about half as long as the ovary (distance from the flower head to the stem). The spur is about 5-8 mm long.

The second photo shows the flowers head on. Here you can see the mouth of the spur at the base of the lip. Inorder to obtain the nectar, the insect brushes up agains the stamen and stigma above it.

The next photo is a side view. It shows the fringed lateral petal extending beyond the dorsal sepal and the relative size of the spur.

The last is another photo of the lip with its fringes. The lip is 7-10mm long.

This plant is very similiar to P. ciliaris which is larger. A distinguishing difference is the length of the spur.

Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid - Flower cluster, infloresence Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid -  Flower closeup front view  labellum Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid -  Flower closeup side view Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid -  Flower closeup front view  labellum


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Plant, leaves and habitat

The plant is about 10 inches to 2 feet tall. It has two to four narrow lanceolate alternate leaves. The lower ones are long and the upper leaves much smaller. The second photo below showes some mid stem leaves and the third photo shows lower leaves. It grows in moist acid soil. It is found in moist sandy and peaty meadows, marshes, prairies, pine savannas, wet wooded flats, seeping slopes, sphagnum bogs

Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid plant Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid - small narrow leaves on stem Platanthera cristata - Yellow Crested Orchid - larger narrow leaves lower on the stem


All photos by H & M Ling, 7/21/2017 & 8/5/2017 Brendon T. Byrne State Forest & Wharton State Forest NJ. The plants we saw were small. They were close to 10 inches tall and had only about 20 flowers in the cluster. They are hard to find.

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Additional information

Additional information / references:

The USDA website shows P. cristata is present in many states but it is threatened/endangered in many.: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=PLCR

New Jersey Heritage Natural Heritage Program, in its endangered plant species list, gives P. cristata - these classifications: G5, S3, LP, HL
G5=Demonstrably secure globally; although it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
S3=Rare in state with 21 to 50 occurrences/sites
LP=Indicates taxa listed by the Pinelands Commission as endangered or threatened within their legal jurisdiction,
HL=Indicates taxa or ecological communities protected by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act within the jurisdiction of the Highlands Preservation Area
NJ Heritage Natural Heritage Program overview: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/
NJ Heritage Natural Heritage Program list of endangered plants: http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/njplantlist.pdf
NJ Heritage Natural Heritage Program status codes: http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/spplant_ap1.html

Flora of North America: Online description: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242101833

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