Lesser butterfly-orchid

Fragrant queen of summer nights

Photo by Antti Koli

Lesser butterfly-orchid (Platanthera bifolia), is a plant in the orchid family that usually grows in lush forests. Its white flowers stand out at dusk, attracting hawk moths and other night-time insects with its strong, enchanting scent. Due to the shape of the flower and its bright white colour, the lesser butterfly-orchid has been thought as a holy, angelic flower. In the past, it was a common sight at markets, but selling the flower was banned as early on as 1950s. Today, the flower is fully protected in Finland, and picking it is prohibited.