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Spiranthes cernua

Spiranthes cernua (L.) Rich.

Ibidium cernuum (L.) House

Spiranthes cernua (L.) Rich. var. incurva Jennings

Common Ladies’-tresses

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyOrchidaceaeOrchid family
GenusSpiranthesFrom the Greek speira, “spiral,” and anthos, “flower,” referring to the coiled or spiral character of the inflorescence, and hence the common name “ladies tresses”
SpeciescernuaLatin for “nodding”

About plant names...

I think of orchids as relatively large, outrageously colorful, tropical plants of limitless variety. But these common, diminutive orchids (along with many others) prefer cooler climes. They are native to the United States.

Identification: Plants are up to 16" (40 cm) tall, though most of this height is the flower stalk. A few long, narrow leaves occur, mostly at the base of the plant; they are 4-8" (10-20 cm) long and ⅛-¾" (5-20 mm) wide. The raceme (flowerhead) is up to 4½" (12 cm) high, roughly cone-shaped, on a single stem well above the leaves. Tiny white flowers about ⅜" (1 cm) long spiral around the spike. Flowers are tubular in shape, with small sharp-tipped petals. Flowers appear between August and November. Ladies’-tresses prefer moist, sandy soils.

Online References:

Spiranthes cernua on Missouriplants.com

Spiranthes cernua at the Orchids of Wisconsin

Spiranthes cernua at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Spiranthes cernua on Ontario Wildflowers

Spiranthes cernua on eFloras

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 8 × 8" (20 × 19 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 6" (11 × 15 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 6 × 8" (15 × 21 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/18/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Spiranthes cernua description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 6 Nov 2013.

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Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/25/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 6" (12 × 16 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/11/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4 × 4½" (10 × 11 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/18/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 17 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.4 × 13 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/14/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.6 × 12 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (Common Ladies’-tresses)

9/4/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Area, Dunstable, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Range:

About this map...