Platanthera nivea (Nutt) Luer

Snowy Orchid

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Habenaria nivea

Platanthera nivea, commonly known as Snowy Orchid, is distributed in the southeastern United States from Texas to Florida and in the southern mid-Atlantic region as far north as New Jersey. It produces 1-3 leaves along its stem, and bears a dense inflorescence of multiple bright white, small, non-resupinate flowers. The labellum, which points upwards from the column, is linear and somewhat elongated, and a long, cylindrical spur extends out from the back of the flower. It is found primarily in moist woodlands and meadows, bogs, swamps, and pine barrens.

Platanthera nivea is globally considered secure, although it is considered rare or vulnerable throughout much of its range. It can form substantial colonies of numerous plants, even in areas where it is considered uncommon.


This orchid is pollinated by butterflies and skippers, including Lerema accius. The polllinia attach to the proboscis as the insect probes for nectar then pollen is transferred to the next flower it visits.

Ecosystem Type

Bogs, fens, floodplains, meadows, swamps, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
  • one
  • two
  • three
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is simple
Main color of labellum:
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
  • the labellum has a spur
  • the labellum is simple
Labellum length:
3–8 mm
Sepal length:
5–6 mm
Plant height:
17–90 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data