Spiranthes lacera (Raf.) Raf - Slender Ladies' Tresses
Family - Orchidaceae
Flowering - July - October.
Habitat - Sandy hardwood forests, wooded slopes, fields, meadows. Typically on acidic soils.
Origin - Native to North America.
Other information - This small species can be found in a few scattered counties throughout Alabama. The plant can be identified by its spirally coiled, small (4-6mm long), white flowers, and typical lack of basal leaves at anthesis. This species typically has a fascicle of tuberous roots.
Our plants belong to variety gracilis (Bigelow) Luer. and have a green spot in the center of the lower lip of the corolla.
Another species, S. tuberosa Raf., is similar but this latter species has slightly smaller flowers (3-4.5mm long) which lack any color on the flower. This species also has typically one or maybe two tuberous roots instead of a fascicle.
The genus name Spiranthes derives from the Greek "speir(o)" meaning "coil" and "anth" meaning "a flower" referring to the shape of the inflorescence.
The species epithet lacera derives from the Latin "lacer(at)" meaning "torn, mangled" referring to the margin of the corolla lip.
Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 8-6-02.