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Kevin Doyle

Round-leaved Orchis (Amerorchis rotundifolia)

Life history

Species overview

Round-leaved Orchis (Amerorchis rotundifolia), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found in cold, springy mixed conifer swamps. Blooming occurs late June through late July; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July.

Synonyms: Orchis rotundifolia, Orchis rotundifolia f. lineata, Orchis rotundifolia var. lineata


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Basal leaf more broad than other orchids (greater width-to-length ratio) and 3 more or less prominent longitudinal veins in the single leaf.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers 1 cm in length, 10 to 15 or more forming a loose raceme; upper sepal and petals, which are 6 to 10 mm long, converge to form a pale pink to white hood, above a spurred, flat, 3-lobed lower lip that is typically spotted with dark purple.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule greenish brown, erect, tapering at both ends; seeds tiny.
  • Leaf characteristics: Single, round to oval basal leaf up to 9 cm in length.


  • Blooming phenology: late June through late July
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout July
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Thuja occidentalis, Larix laricina, Picea mariana, Cardamine pratensis, Toxicodendron vernix, Eleocharis quinqueflora, Carex tenuiflora, C. gynocrates, C. lacustris, Equisetum fluviatile.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Round-leaved Orchis (Amerorchis rotundifolia). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Amerorchis rotundifolia in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1S2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in cold, springy mixed conifer swamps.
  • Soils: Wet soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Round-leaved Orchis. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Round-leaved Orchis. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.
  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.


Round-leaved Orchis Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Round-leaved Orchis Photo.

The rare small round-leaved orchis inhabits calcareous cedar swamps.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Round-leaved Orchis Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Round-leaved Orchis Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Round-leaved Orchis Photo.

Photo © Benjamin Grady.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition