A white-flowered form of this orchid from eastern Long Island has been described as a separate species, Platanthera pallida, but has now been formally recognized as indistinct.
There are seven existing populations in four areas of Long Island. Two populations are ranked good to excellent, but the other four are very small and may not be viable in the long term. This orchid was always rare in New York with only seven historical records but most of them still have natural areas.
The two largest populations seem to be stable but the five small populations seem to be stable or declining.
This orchid has always been very rare in New York and population numbers have remained about the same over time. Most of the existing populations occur in parks and should remain stable into the foreseeable future.
Plants along a roadside are threatened by improper mowing schedules and other more isolated populations are threatened by collection and browsing by deer.
This species needs disturbance to reduce competition from woody plants or more aggressive herbaceous plants but too much direct disturbance to the plants will reduce or eliminate the population. Its habitat could be disturbed in the non-growing season to open it up for seed germination and colonization but direct disturbance should be prevented during the growing season.
Annual or biannual counts should be undertaken to get better data on population trends.
In New York Crested Fringed Orchis has been found primarily at open, sandy (often, though not always, wet or moist) sites, associated with pitch pine (Pinus rigida). These have included sand dunes and interdunal swales, open pine woods and barrens, and roadsides or firebreaks (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Moist sandy and peaty meadows, marshes, prairies, pine savannas, wet wooded flats, seeping slopes, sphagnum bogs (FNA 2002). Low moist meadows and damp pine woods, especially along the coastal plain, but also in the mountains southward (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).
This orchid extended from Queens east through Suffolk County on Long Island, but is presently only known from Suffolk County and considered extirpated in Nassau and Queens counties.
It is most common along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains from Virginia south to Northern Florida and west to East Texas. Farther north it is rare and scattered from the Delmarva Peninsula through New Jersey, Long Island, and Eastern Massachusetts. It extends inland in the Southeast to Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Crested Fringed Orchis have a central stalk from 90 centimeters tall, with two to four alternate, lanceolate leaves up to 21 centimeters long, gradually reduced to bracts above. The many showy, orange (Long Island, NY populations ranging to pale yellow) flowers are borne in a dense spike 2 to 13 cm long, the lower end maturing first. The lip is 4 to 8 millimeters long, and has deeply fringed. The spur is slender and from 4 to 10 millimeters long, about half the length of the ovary (FNA 2002).
These orchids are best identified in flower.
Platanthera ciliaris is the only other yellow or orange-flowered Platanthera present in New York. (Some Long Island, New York Platanthera cristata populations have pale yellow flowers (or even whitish, in cultivation) but not the pure white of P. blephariglottis (FNA 2002)). Platanthera ciliaris is overall a larger plant, with a significantly longer (18-28 mm) spur than that of P. cristata (5-9 mm) and triangular, downward-pointing rostellum lobes directed forward (those of P. cristata are slender and pointed downward).
The best time to see these plants is when they are in flower, from late July through September.
The time of year you would expect to find Orange Crested Orchid flowering and fruiting in New York.
Orange Crested Orchid
Platanthera cristata (Michx.) Lindl.
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New York Natural Heritage Program. 2022. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of the Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Vines of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.
Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
Information for this guide was last updated on: August 28, 2019
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2022. Online Conservation Guide for Platanthera cristata. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/orange-crested-orchid/. Accessed November 29, 2022.