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Spiranthes tuberosa var. gracilis

Previously known as:

  • Spiranthes beckii
  • Spiranthes gracilis
Phonetic Spelling
spy-RAN-theez too-ber-OH-suh
Description

Spiranthes tuberosa var. gracilis, or Southern Slender Ladies' Tresses, is a perennial wildflower in the orchid family that is native to the eastern United States. Note that this plant is under some stress being listed as threatened in Florida, vulnerable in New York, endangered in Rhode Island, and locally extinct in parts of Pennsylvania. As a wildflower, it is typically found on ridgetops, rocky woodlands, and bluff crowns. It grows best in full sun to light shade with good drainage.

Southern Slender Ladies' Tresses gets its name from the plant's flowers, which display as a tightly to loosely packed spike cluster of tiny, white, trumpet-like flowers spiraling up at the tip of a slender stem, though occasionally the flowers are arranged in a (more or less) straight column up one side. Basal leaves are variable but generally oval-elliptic and typically wither away by flowering time.

There are two varieties of Southern Slender Ladies' Tresses. The variation gracilis is the more southern species and associated with open meadows from the eastern Great Plains and throughout the southeastern US. The other variation, lacera, is considered a northern variant and prefers dry sandy soils often associated with stands of Jack pine throughout the Great Lakes and New England.  Lacera is distinguished from var. gracilis by hairs on the stem, basal leaves persisting through flowering time, and usually 8 to 10 flowers in a cycle of the spiral.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#perennials#small flowers#wildflower garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#perennials#small flowers#wildflower garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Spiranthes
    Species:
    tuberosa
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern and Central United States
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts bees and other polinators.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Texture:
    Fine
  • 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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Blooms from mid-summer to fall. Flower is white with a tip that has a green stripe on the upper surface. The smooth flowers are tightly spiraled. Individual flowers are ¼ inch or less in length, often nodding, the narrow lateral sepals spread wide like open arms with the lance-like lateral petals and upper sepal closely aligned, their tapered tips flared up, making a three parted hood above the frilly, broadly spreading lower lip. The center of the lower lip is tinged green or yellow. An erect, sharply tapered oval green bract encloses the ovary at each flower's base. A spiral typically has 4 to 6 flowers in a cycle
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Basal leaves are variable but generally oval-elliptic, up to 2 inches long and to ¾ inch wide, and typically wither away by flowering time. A few sheathing, bract-like leaves are scattered along the stem.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Meadow
    Attracts:
    Bees