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Spiranthes spiralis

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Spiranthes sinensis
Phonetic Spelling
spy-RAN-theez spir-AH-liss
Description

Autumn Lady's Tresses is a small orchid that grows in grassy open meadows in Europe, Africa and Asia. It is a tuberous herbaceous perennial that goes dormant in June or July. In late summer a flowering stalk appears with small white flowers spiraling around it. 1 or 2 rosettes of leaves follow shortly after and live through the winter and spring.

The tubers can take several years before producing above-ground leaves and another 3 years before blooming. It may only bloom every 2-3 years and if conditions are unfavorable may produce no above-ground parts at all.

This plant generally is found in unfertile grasslands in arid rocky areas and prefers fulls sun. It is considered threatened in some areas of its native habitat.

This is not a plant you are likely to find for sale or would use in a garden.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#fall flowers#white flowers#tuberous#orchid#naturalized area#gray-green leaves#dry soils tolerant#HS302#meadows
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#fall flowers#white flowers#tuberous#orchid#naturalized area#gray-green leaves#dry soils tolerant#HS302#meadows
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Spiranthes
    Species:
    spiralis
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, north Africa, western Asia
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Oval capsules with many small seeds
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Urn
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Hooded flowers appear in late summer and spiral around a 4-6 inch stem. Each .25 inch flower is white with a green spot on the lower lip and a frilly edge.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are in a rosette of four to five pointed, sessile, ovate leaves 1-1.5 inches long and .5 inch wide.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Grayish green stem with short transparent glandular hairs on the upper parts.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area