Native orchids are increasingly threatened by pressure from population growth and development but, nonetheless, still present a welcome surprise to observant hikers in every state and province. Compiled and illustrated by long-time orchid specialist Paul Martin Brown, this pocket guide to the fringed orchids forms part of a series that will cover all the wild orchids of the continental United States and Canada. Brown provides a description, general distributional information, time of flowering, and habitat requirements for each species as well as a complete list of hybrids and the many different growth and color forms that can make identifying orchids so challenging. For the fringed-lipped orchids, which make up some of the most intriguing and richly colored of all wild orchids, he includes information on fourteen species and thirteen hybrids. The genus Platanthera is the largest genus of orchids to be found in North America north of Mexico; the fringe-lipped group is found primarily in the eastern U.S. and Canada, extending west to the prairies and Great Plains. The fringed orchids, so-called because of the delicately fringed petals and lips on many of the species, comprise some of the largest and showiest native orchids found in our region. Most of these species are easy to identify based upon their general appearance, range, and time of flowering. Answering three simple questions – when, where, and how does it grow? – and comparing the living plants with the striking photos in the backpack-friendly laminated guide and the information in the simple key should enable both professional and amateur naturalists to achieve the satisfaction of identifying a specific orchid.
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