genus of up to 80 superficially similar species that have a
predominantly Asian and American distribution with only 8 that are found in Europe with any regularity.
By far the most familiar and widespread of the European species are bifolia and chlorantha, both of which produce a scent which is particularly noticeable after dusk and as a
consequence attracts largely night flying insects, the most important of which is moths.
Platanthera is a paraphyletic genus and considered to be close to Gymnadenia.
Members of the genus are characterised by two cigar shaped
tubers, a small number of leaves that are usually clustered at
the base of the stem and often forming a cup. The flowers are white or
greenish white and this assists in night time detection by insects. The lateral sepals are held outwards whilst the dorsal sepal and petals form a loose hood.