Western Prairie Fringed Orchid


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The western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) is a characteristic plant of North American tall-grass prairies, particularly found in Minnesota, North Dakota and Nebraska. It is a beautiful plant whose fate is tied to that of its habitat, which has been reduced to less than 2% of its former vast range. This orchid is best recognised by its snowy white flowers, which produce a vanilla-like fragrance. The plant has thick, fleshy roots with an underground storage organ called the ‘tuberoid’. This swollen part of the roots serves to store energy, so the plant may survive winter and dry periods, as well as to provide nutrients during the growing season. The plant relies on specific hawk moths to pollinate, and its habitat is mostly being lost to agriculture, commercial housing and wildfires.