John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe

Home The genus Platanthera

Origin:  -  Plat meaning thickened and anthera meaning anther.

The species

* P. algeriensis
P. bifolia             
* P. chlorantha
* P. holmboei


A genus of over 100 superficially similar species that have a predominantly Asian and American distribution with only 8 that are found in Europe with any regularity.

By far the most familiar and widespread of the European species are bifolia and chlorantha, both of which produce a scent which is  particularly  noticeable after dusk and as a  
consequence attracts largely night flying insects, the most important of which is moths.

Platanthera is a paraphyletic genus and considered to be close to Gymnadenia. Members of the genus are characterized by two cigar shaped tubers,  a small number of leaves that are usually clustered at the base of the stem and often forming a cup. The flowers are white or greenish white and this assists in night time detection by insects. The lateral sepals are held outwards whilst the dorsal sepal and petals form a loose hood.