If Platanthera ciliaris is the King of the Bog, then the White Fringed Orchid could certainly be considered The Queen. Her cream-white flowers closely resemble the Orange Fringed Orchid, but differ not only in color (at one point she was considered an albino form of the Orange Fringed), but also in shape and the depth of fringing on the lip.
I was directed back in 2004 to an area where these orchids were supposed to be found in northeastern Florida. Following the map I had been given, I drove relentlessly back and forth on this one stretch of highway, trying to spot these orchids. After a few hours of searching, I had no success...it seemed that the area where these were supposed to grow had been mowed down to within an inch of its life. Finally, I headed home with a heavy heart, thinking that all was lost.
I happened to glance over to the other side of the road well out of the indicated range on the map, and a fleeting glimpse of white caught my eye. As I exited the car, my heart leapt into my throat...three plants were just starting to open their first flowers. I marked the area and returned the next week to flowering stems as fully open as they could be (by the time the top buds open, the bottom flowers are far past spent).
Four years passed by...after which I returned to the area with better photographic equipment, hoping to reprise my earlier photographs. This time, our timing must have been off, as the only orchids to be seen were a few Crested Fringed Orchids along a side road...probably a bit too early for The Queen.
The next year, I returned to find two White Fringed plants on their very last flower...obviously too late in the year. Of course, you have to add to the mix the fact that an unseasonably cool or warm winter can throw these plants off by several weeks, making their blooming time a bit of a moving target.
This year, armed with the dates of the previous years' attempts, we finally found a group of plants in flower. The camera was pulled out and a few nice pictures resulted. The next week proved even better...there must have been a hundred plants scattered along this one area maybe one quarter mile long. At long last, I was able to recapture these beauties at a higher resolution to present for your viewing pleasure.
To see all the photos, head over to the newly revised White Fringed Orchid Page, linked below:
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