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Spiranthes cernua (L.) Rich.

Common ladies’-tresses, nodding 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. Ladies’-tresses prefer moist, sandy soils.

Plants: Up to 16" (40 cm) tall, though most of this height is the flower stalk.

Leaves: A few long, narrow leaves occur, mostly at the base of the plant; they are dull (not shiny) 4-8" (10-20 cm) long and ⅛-¾" (5-20 mm) wide.

Flowers: 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, yellow in the center, with small sharp-tipped petals. Flowers appear between August and November.

Here are some similar species:

 

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/18/2017 · Purgatory Falls, Mont Vernon, New Hamp­shire
≈ 6 × 8" (15 × 20 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 7 × 8" (17 × 19 cm)

  You are here
Spiranthes cernua

Spiranthes lucida

Spiranthes romanzoffiana
Common Name

common ladies’-tresses

shining ladies’-tresses

hooded ladies’-tresses
Plant Up to 16" (40 cm) tall, though most of this height is the flower stalk. 1½-16" (4-40 cm) high, with leaves only at the base. 2½-16" (7-40 cm) high.
Flowers 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, yellow in the center, with small sharp-tipped petals. Flowers appear between August and November. Up to 20 flowers are wrapped in a tight spiral on a hairy spike. Sepals are ~³/₁₆" (5-5.5 mm) long, and fused at the base for ~0.7 mm. The interior of the tubular flower is yellow, with green lines. Up to 40 flowers are arranged spirally around a nearly hairless spike ¾-6" (2-14 cm) high. Sepals and petals are fused together, and ¼-⅜" (8-12 mm) long. They appear from May to September. Sepals are broad and white
Leaves 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. 3-5 light green basal leaves are lanceolate to oblong, up to 4½" (12 cm) long and ¼-½" (7-15 mm) wide. They are distinctly shiny. 2 to 3, rarely up to 5 Basal leaves are 2½-8" (7-20 cm) × ⅛-⅜" (6-12 mm). Leaves are linear or lanceolate.
Fruit   Seeds have a net-veined coating.  
Range/ Zones

 

Type Wild Wild Wild

 

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

References:

Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 380

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 4½" (9.4 × 11 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/18/2017 · Purgatory Falls, Mont Vernon, New Hamp­shire
≈ 3 × 5" (8.4 × 12 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/18/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 2½ × 3½" (6.1 × 9.5 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

7/10/2019 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts, United States

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/25/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 6" (13 × 16 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2017 · Mt. Watatic, access road, Ashby, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3 × 4" (8.2 × 9.9 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 14 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/18/2017 · Purgatory Falls, Mont Vernon, New Hamp­shire
≈ 4 × 4" (11 × 10 cm)

Ibidium cernuum (L.) House

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

 

Spiranthes cernua description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 6 Sep 2021.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2017 · Mt. Watatic, access road, Ashby, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 17 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2017 · Mt. Watatic, access road, Ashby, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 4" (9.3 × 10 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 2½ × 4" (7 × 10 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2017 · Mt. Watatic, access road, Ashby, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 12 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

8/30/2021 · Woodward Point Preserve, Brunswick, Maine
≈ 3½ × 4½" (9.4 × 12 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2017 · Mt. Watatic, access road, Ashby, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 2½ × 4½" (7.3 × 11 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/14/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3 × 4" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/4/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Area, Dunstable, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 6 × 9" (16 × 23 cm)

Spiranthes cernua (common ladies’-tresses, nodding ladies’ tresses)

9/11/2017 · Mt. Watatic, access road, Ashby, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 15 cm)

Range:

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