Spiranthes lucida

Spiranthes lucida shining ladies’-tresses

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This species of the orchid family is also called the wide-leaved ladies’ tresses. All members of this genus have inconspicuous spikes of small white flowers 6-18 inches tall either in single or double spirals. The 3-5 leaves are grass-like and basal. This is an early blooming species that flowers from May to July depending on location. Most of the other related dozen or so species of ladies’ tresses bloom in summer or autumn. In this species there are up to 20 flowers on the spike that forms a tight spiral. The lips of the flowers have a characteristic yellow center and fine green lines. The lateral and top petals combine to form a hood. The flower spike is covered with fine hairs.

Unlike other related species the flowers are adapted to short-tongued bees, especially those in the sweet bee family (Halictidae), rather than to the long-tongued bees such as bumblebees. It is not a common plant in Pennsylvania, but is found throughout Eastern North America. In some areas it has been extirpated but nation-wide is considered secure. It tends to grow in moist, rocky, or sandy soils, especially along the shores of rivers or lakes, in moist woodlands and near fens. Unlike the nodding ladies’ tresses, the flowers do not point downwards.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Rare on moist shores and wet meadows, prefers calcerous soils.

Found in south-western part of the state.

Wetland codes

Flowers May to July.

PA-satus: PT (Threatened)
S-rank:    S3 (Vulnerable)
G-rank:    G4 (Apparently secure)