Shenandoah National Park: Orchids of Summer

In Shenandoah National Park there are different orchids that bloom in the summer months than those from the spring. It’s always a joy to find these lovely flowers growing in the woods!

Greater Purple Fringed Orchid

Greater Purple Fringed Orchid

Greater Purple Fringed Orchid

The Greater Purple Fringed Orchid, Large Purple Fringed Orchid, or Platanthera grandiflora, is a member of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae) and blooms June-August. A native flower, it grows throughout most of eastern North America. You can find them growing in coll moist woods, wet meadows, and swamp edges. It is pollinated by moths and butterflies.

According to the book Wildflowers of Shenandoah National Park, this orchid is only found in a few counties in Virginia and several locations in Shenandoah National Park. Of the summer orchids, it is the most rare. In all my hikes I’ve only seen it once in the Central District.

Crane-fly Orchid

The Crane-fly Orchid, or Tipularia discolor, is a member of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae) and blooms June to September. It is the only species of the genus Tipularia found in North America. It is found scattered throughout the eastern and southern U.S. Moths pollinate the plant.

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Downy Rattlesnake Orchid, or Goodyera pubescens, is a member of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae) and blooms May to September. It is one of the most widely-distributed orchids in North America, reaching 31 states, mostly in the eastern and central U.S., but also stretching up to Canada. The name comes from how the mottled leave resemble a snake’s skin.

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Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find and photograph all of the possible summer orchids during my hikes.

Other orchids that bloom in Shenandoah National Park (according to the park’s list of wildflowers) include:

  • Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris), blooms July-September
  • Green Fringed Orchid (Platanthera lacera), blooms June-September
  • Large Round-leaved Orchid (Platanthera orbiculata), blooms June-August
  • Green Woodland Orchid (Gymnadeniopsis clavellata)
  • Pale Green Orchid (Platanthera flava var. herbiola)

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I hope you find this guide helpful and are able to spot some of these rare wildflowers out in the park!

2 Replies to “Shenandoah National Park: Orchids of Summer”

  1. Lovely! I haven’t been recently on trails to see any of these.

    1. Thank you! I haven’t seen that many orchids this year, actually. Only the Greater Purple Fringed Orchid and there was only one all by itself in the woods! The other photos are from last year. I saw the Crane-fly Orchid and Downy Rattlesnake Plantain several times in Shenandoah National Park. I hope I can find the others that the park lists as growing within their borders! I hope you have a chance to see them, too! 🙂

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