Rose Pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides) is a lovely inhabitant of Sphagnum bogs and other peaty places where it can often be found growing with grass pink orchids. We grow it in container bogs, topped with Sphagnum moss, where it seems to prefer the lower and wetter sections along the moisture gradient.
Rose Pogonia is variable in height. Some sources say that it grows to three feet in height, others only a few inches. This may environmentally-influence. Here at the nursery, in artificial bogs, we find that it generally ranges from about four to ten inches. It produces a single grass-like leaf and a single stem, which produces a single, rosy-pink flower.
Rose Pogonia is classified as an obligate (OBL), wetland plant, meaning it grows almost exclusively in wetlands, generally of very high quality. In the southern Great Lakes region, the species occurs in sphagnum bogs, fens, wet sand flats, mesic and pannes.
The Latin name “Pogonia” means “beard,” a reference to the bearded lip on the flower.
The species name ophioglossoides comes from the word “orphis” (meaning “snake”), “glassa” (meaning “tongue”), and “eidos” (meaning “like”): resembling an Ophioglossum (the Adder’s Tongue fern, whose leaf superficially resembles that of this orchid).
Other common names for Rose Pogonia include Rose Crest-lip, Beard Flower, Snake Mouth, Snakemouth Orchid, Snake-mouth Orchid, Adder’s Mouth, Adder’s-mouth Pogonia, and Dragon’s-mouth. The latter names are a reference to the appearance of the flower. The plant is also called Sweet Pogonia, an apparent reference to the purported fragrance of the flower.
— Adirondacks Forever Wild.
Rose Pogonia is native to much of eastern North America. It is more common in the northern tier of states, bordering Canada but may be found as far west as eastern Texas and Oklahoma and as far south as Florida.
In bogs with Drosera sp. (sundew), Calopogon tuberosus (grass pink), Osmunda spectabilis (royal fern), Andromeda glaucophylla (bog rosemary), Larix laricina (America larch), Sarracenia purpurea (norther pitcher plant) and other sphagnum bog denizens; In prairie fens and marly places with Carex buxbaumii (Buxbaum’s sedge), Lobelia kalmii (Kalm’s Lobelia), Hypericum kalmianum (Kalm’s St. John’s wort), and others.