The Ridges Sanctuary is internationally recognized for the incredible diversity of plant life found here. Nearly 500 vascular plants find their home in this rich complex of boreal forest and wetlands. Some, like the delicate Twinflower, are typically found much further north, but can survive here because of the cooling effects of Lake Michigan. Others, like the insect-eating Pitcher Plant and Sundew, prefer the acidic waters of the swales. Twelve endangered or threatened plant species are protected within the Sanctuary.
Among all the plants found here, perhaps none are better known and sought after than the orchids. Over 25 native orchids bloom in The Ridges Sanctuary. These range in size from the tiny Heartleaf Twayblade to the tall, elegant Showy Lady’s-slipper. In order to protect these rare beauties from damage or theft, exact locations of most orchid species are usually not disclosed except to qualified researchers.
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Typical Blooming Dates|
|Arctic Primrose||Primula mistassinica||May 1 – June 19|
|Dwarf Lake Iris||Iris lacustris||May 10 – June 23|
|Indian Paintbrush||Castilleja coccinea||May 18 – August 30|
|Gaywings||Polygala paucifolia||May 18 – June 21|
|Bog Buckbean||Menyanthes trifoliata||May 24 – June 15|
|Pink Moccasin Flower||Cypripedium acaule||June 5 – June 30|
|Yellow Lady’s-slipper||Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens||June 5 – July 1|
|Labrador Tea||Ledum groenlandicum||June 5 – June 30|
|Twinflower||Linnaea borealis||June 12 – July 12|
|Shrubby Potentilla||Potentilla fruticosa||June 12 – October 10|
|Pitcher Plant||Sarracenia purpurea||June 12 – July 5|
|Thimbleberry||Rubus parviflorus||June 15 – July 6|
|Lance-leaved Coreopsis||Coreopsis lanceolata||June 15 – August 9|
|Wild Rose||Rosa blanda||June 15 – August 10|
|Wood Lily||Lilium philadelphicum||June 23 – July 20|
|Grass Pink Orchid||Calopogon pulchellus||June 23 – July 18|
|Showy Lady’s-slipper||Cypripedium reginae||June 22 – July 14|
|Black-eyed Susan||Rudbeckia hirta||June 23 – September 14|
|Ohio Goldenrod||Solidago ohioensis||July 29 – September 1|
|Grass of Parnassus||Parnassia glauca||August 5 – September 14|
|Dune Goldenrod||Solidago simplex||August 21 – September 14|
|Fringed Gentian||Gentianopsis procera||August 24 – October 1|
Download a more comprehensive blooming list of 100 species found at The Ridges.
Related Plant Links
University of Wisconsin Herbarium – the website features a searchable database of Wisconsin plants and lichens, including photos, habitat descriptions, distribution maps and more.
Orchids of Wisconsin – a somewhat technical site, with detailed descriptions and photos of all Wisconsin orchid species.