Species At Risk Profile: Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

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Common Name: Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
Species Name: Platanthera praeclara
Description: The Western prairie fringed orchid is an endangered wildflower that occurs only in Manitoba and seven American states. It grows perennially to a height of 16 to 35 inches. Flowers are arranged in a spike of four to 33 (most often less than 20) white to creamy white flowers. Flowers are fragrant at night to attract the moths that are its pollinators. To distinguish a Western prairie fringed orchid from other orchidslook for its large, white flowers with deeply fringed margins and its large size, relative to other Manitoba orchids.
Where it can be found: Tallgrass Prairie stands once dominated Southern Manitoba.  Following pioneer settlement and the introduction of agricultural practices, native Tallgrass stands were wiped out except for a few undeveloped patches near Gardenton and Vita, the Orchid’s lone Canadian location.
Threats:  Although occasionally found in disturbed roadside beds, it is imperative that the remaining native Tallgrass prairie habitat be protected from cultivation.  Heavy grazing and early haying can also be detrimental.
Information Sources: MB Conservation, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center