Platanthera cristata Plant Identification (Flower, Leaf, Care, Uses)

Platanthera cristata (Michx.) Lindl. – Crested Yellow Orchid

Platanthera cristata plant



Platanthera cristata stem




Platanthera cristata inflorescence


Platanthera cristata flower

Flowering – June – Sept.

Habitat – Bogs, low meadows, swamps, wet flatwoods.

Origin – Native to North America.

Other information – This species can be found scattered throughout most of Alabama. The plant may be more common than is reported as it can flower one year and not sprout again for some time. In flatwood areas the occurrence of the plant is probably tied to the frequency of fire in the area. Frequent fire/disturbance is usually good for non-competitive species such as P. cristata.
This species can be identified by its alternate leaves and small yellow flowers. The flowers have a single, fringed lower lip of the corolla. The lower lip is only about 4-6mm long in this species. The genus name Platanthera derives from the Greek “plat” meaning “flat, broad” and “anthera” which is a new Latin term for the anthers.
The species epithet cristata derives from the Latin “crist(a)” meaning “a crest” probably referring to the fringed lip of the corolla.

Alabama Distribution:

Platanthera cristata map

Photographs taken at Fort Benning, GA., 7-25-05.