Wild Plants of the Copper Basin: Green-Flowered Bog Orchid (Platanthera hyperborea)
By Janelle Eklund
It was one of those nice summer days - it had to be nice - we were at Silver Lake! My daily walk down the road always graces me with something new and beautiful. On this one particular day on the McCarthy road I had the pleasure of meeting Platanthera hyperborea, or the common name, green-flowered bog orchid. The common name surly got it right. Everything on this plant is green in one shade or another. I found it living in a wet area near a trailhead.
Leaves that are longer than they are wide hug the stem starting at the base. As they climb the stem they get smaller and smaller until they become bracts of the little flowerets - looking like a small filler in a beautiful bouquet. Each little floweret appears to be sticking out a long green yellow tongue. Two horn like petals of the same shade curve toward the center of the floweret. The cap has a light green visor that shades whitish green eyes, or anthers, lurking inside. The two petals that form its turned back floppy appearing ears are about the same color as the light green cap. The scientific name, hyperborea means 'of the far north'.
I have found no mention of any medicinal or edible qualities of Green-Flowered Bog Orchid. Beauty is its main quality. It was a delight and wonder to meet this jewel of a stately orchid growing in the far north.
From my light to yours-
References: Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland by Johnson, Kershaw, MacKinnon, Pojar
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WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.
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