Family, Orchis. Color, lilac or deep purple, rarely white. Upper sepals and petals toothed, united. The lip 3-parted, spreading like an open fan, much fringed, prolonged backward into a thread-like spur. Flowers, in a dense raceme terminating a stem 1 to 4 feet high. Raceme, 3 to 15 inches long. Stem, leafy. Leaves, lance-shape to oval, their bases sheathing the stem, the lower 4 to 10 inches long, upper smaller, acute. June to August.
Rich woods and meadows, often near a running brook. No richer-hued or more queenly flower rewards the seeker after our native orchids. In the old legends Orchis, the son of a rural deity, by his rustic manners offended the servants of Bacchus, who killed him. His parents prayed that a flower might be created to commemorate the name of their hapless son, and the gods, in answer, gave them the orchis.