There are comparatively few orchids in Illinois; it is not the proper habitat for most of them, some of which live only in cool, acid, sphagnum bogs, some in coniferous swamps, or in other intensely acid, cold soil. At one time, long ago before the landscape of Illinois was changed by plowing, overgrazing of forest-land, drainage of water courses, and other man-made influences, there were far more wild orchids. Some of these in a few remaining orchid-haunts still come up each spring and blossom and set their seeds in the ancient manner of the tribe.
Habenaria bracteata (Muhl.) R. Br.
May - June Woods.
The long-bracted orchid does not have that colorful elegance of the lady'- slippers and fringed orchids. It has. however, in it- small individual flowers, the same intricate and curious mechanism and closely held form which all orchids possess. Yet as the plant grows in the damp woods or in a thicket, it is so green throughout that it may be overlooked by all but the most experienced orchid hunter.
The long-bracted orchid has a spike of green flowers with a long green brad extending outward below each flower. The leaves are few; they clasp the stout stem; they are smooth, pale green, glossy.
It is a plant whose range is wide and varied. The same species which grows in a certain Illinois woods also grows in a similar habitat from Nova Scotia to Alaska and south to Washington, Minnesota, and Penn-sylvania, and along the Appalachian mountains to the Smokies in North Carolina. And in the same sort of haunt, the same species of wild orchid grows in damp woods and thicket- in China and Japan.