This fragrant orchid grows in wet meadows, fens, stream banks, lakeshores from the lowlands to the alpine. The oblong to lance shaped leaves get progressively smaller up the 12-20" stem. There are 5-30 white flowers arranged along a spike. The 2 upper petals of the flower form a hood and the lower petals form a flared lip. You can usually smell this plant before you see it. The perfume can be described as a mix of cloves, vanilla and mock-orange.
Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants with 22,000-35,000 species, mostly in tropical forests. While you may no associate orchids with northern latitudes Alaska has 33 species of orchids, 27 of which are known to occur in the southeast part of the state.