Spiranthes tuberosa Raf. - Little Ladies Tresses

Spiranthes tuberosa plant

Family - Orchidaceae

Stems:

Spiranthes tuberosa root

Leaves:

N/A

Inflorescence:

Spiranthes tuberosa inflorescence

Flowers:

Spiranthes tuberosa flowers

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Dry flatwoods, sandhills, scrub, pine-hardwood slopes.

Origin - Native to North America.

Other information - This little species can be found in scattered counties throughout Alabama. The plant can be identified by its tuberous root, lack of leaves at anthesis, and tiny white flowers. The flowers are in a single spiral on the inflorescence. The root is typically single but can rarely be paired if the previous-season's root is persistent.
Another species, S. lacera (Raf.) Raf., is similar but has multiple tuberous roots and the flowers have a distinct green spot in the center of the lip.
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 tuberosa derives from the Latin "tuber" meaning "a knot, knob, swelling" referring to the root.

Alabama Distribution:

Spiranthes tuberosa map

Photographs taken at Fort Benning, AL., 6-28-05.


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