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Platanthera nivea (Snowy orchid)
Cressler, Alan

Platanthera nivea

Platanthera nivea (Nutt.) Luer

Snowy Orchid, Frog Spear, Bog Torch, White Frog Arrow, White Rein Orchid

Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Synonym(s): Gymnadeniopsis nivea, Habenaria nivea


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The snowy orchid is a slender, erect, 1-stemmed plant that grows up to 3 feet tall. It has 2 or 3 leaves near the bottom, 4-12 inches long. The flower clusters are cylindrical, 4-5 inches long at the end of the stem and very compact, blooming from the bottom upward. Flowers are white, with 3 petals, the narrow lip at the top. The slender spur is conspicuous, 3/4 inch long, extending to the side and curving upward.

The Snowy Orchid is a member of the orchid family (family Orchidaceae). Orchids are perennial herbs with complicated, unusual and often beautiful flowers borne singly or in spikes, racemes, or branched clusters. This is the largest family of flowering plants in terms of numbers of species, but rarely, if ever, is it dominant. The 600-700 genera and 20,000 species are most abundant in the tropics, where they most frequently grow upon other vegetation. Elsewhere they are usually terrestrial. Vanilla is obtained from the fruits of the tropical genus Vanilla, and many species are grown as beautiful greenhouse novelties. Certain species and hybrids, once very rare and difficult to acquire, are now reproduced in great numbers by cloning. The elaborate flower has highly specialized relationships with pollinators. Pollen is usually held together in masses and in many cases must be properly positioned on the insect for pollination of another flower to occur.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , NC , NJ , SC , TN , TX , VA


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Platanthera nivea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Platanthera nivea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Platanthera nivea


Record Modified: 2016-03-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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