Arethusa bulbosa (Dragon's Mouth)

Plant Info
Also known as: Swamp Pink
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; coniferous swamps, peat bogs, fens, sedge meadows
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:3 to 14 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flower] A single pale to hot pink irregular flower atop slender stem. Three solid colored, narrow elliptical sepals, up to ¼ inch wide and 1 to 1¾ inch long, are splayed erect over the flower; two petals similar to the sepals form a hood over the showy lower lip. The lower lip is first ascending then fully curved out and down revealing wrinkled edges and purple speckling with fleshy white to yellow bristles.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

Flower stem with several tight narrow sheaths and an upper sheath-like leaf that extends after flowering to a narrow grass-like blade to 7 inches long.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is an erect capsule, ¾ to 1¼ inches long.


Another prized but rarely observed native orchid, extensive populations yet exist on the pattened peatland complexes of northern Minnesota. Its habitat is difficult to approach and generally uninteresting to the average sightseer, i.e. typically wet and buggy.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken on the patterned peatlands off Hwy 72 north of Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Angela - Lake Bemidji State Park
on: 2012-05-16 14:08:27

If you look closely (because they're so tiny!), you can find these growing along the bog walk at Lake Bemidji State Park.

Posted by: Hanna
on: 2014-06-15 14:46:25

There's a lovely description of this plant in Thoreau's journal for 9 June 1854. You might find it interesting.

Posted by: Bruce - Jitterbug Lake, BWCA
on: 2014-06-21 16:11:21

There are a lot of these growing along the swampy shoreline of Jitterbug Lake, a little lake in the Boundary Waters, lots of Pitcher Plants there too.

Posted by: Kay - Bemidji Bog Walk
on: 2015-06-27 15:26:59

My niece took a photo of a rare orchid - the Dragon's Mouth while on the Bog Walk. There is another name on the ID plaque below "Dragon's Mouth. It reads: Zhingisiwash. What is the meaning of that word? I'm not able to bring it up when I google it.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-07-05 10:37:26

Kay, that would be a Native American name for the species, probably Ojibwe but could be another tribe.

Posted by: Robie - Chippewa National Forest
on: 2017-05-17 15:32:03

I was introduced to these at Lake Bemidji State Park's bog walk. I came across a few of these today in a cedar swamp off the Third River Road, east of Pennington, in the Chippewa National Forest.

Posted by: Jana Studelska - Isabella
on: 2022-06-28 19:15:54

I know of a patch growing along the riverine lake system that feeds Slate Lake.

Posted by: Stanley Gagner - Lake Binagami
on: 2024-02-04 00:35:42

I found a small patch of these on the "shoreline" where Lake Binagami meets a peat bog. It is extremely beautiful when in bloom with a really bright pink color. I haven't always been up at the lake at the right time to see it in bloom, but I always go check the area just to make sure it is still alive. It is nearly impossible to find when not blooming, so if I didn't already know where it was I would have no chance.

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