The greenish yellow flowers of the Ragged Orchis are "all tattered and torn," like the man in the nursery rhyme "That kissed the maiden all forlorn, That milked the cow with the crumpled horn."
It is a common and inconspicuous Orchid, differing distinctly from all others by its remarkable fringed lip, which is so fantastically slit and slashed that it is comparatively difficult to describe. The rather slender, round, smooth stalk grows one or two feet high, and bears several firm, alternating, lance-shaped, yellow-green leaves, which become very much smaller and bract-like as they approach the top. The numerous flowers are gathered into a loose, terminal, misty green or feathery spike. The sepals are pointed oval, and the upper one is a little the broadest. The petals are oblong, and the long lip is divided into three spreading parts, each of which is hopelessly cut into an irregular thread-like fringe. The curving spur is very long and slender. The Ragged Orchis blossoms during June and July, in bogs, swamps, and wet woods, from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, and south to Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri.