Spiranthes vernalis

Spiranthes vernalis spring ladies’-tresses

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

Spiranthes vernalis can be distinguished by its bright yellow inner lip and the generally loose structure of its flowers, in particular the lateral sepals, which slope down and away from the petals.  As its scientific name suggests, S. vernalis blooms early in the season across the southern half of its range, although in our region it peaks in late July to early August.

Unlike many Spiranthes species, S. vernalis keeps its dark green, lanceolate basal leaves through its blooming period.  It is found in generally dry areas such as fields, prairies, and disturbed roadsides, although some records from bogs do exist. 

This species is widespread across the southeastern U.S., but gets rarer as it reaches the northern extent of its range.  It is listed as endangered in Pennsylvania and is only found in a handful of counties near Philadelphia and in Tioga County. 


Spiranthes vernalis Species Factsheet. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program.  Available at natural heritage of PA.

Spiranthes vernalis. North American Orchid Conservation Center. Copyright 2011-2022. Available at goorchids.

Contributed by: Greg Funka

Rare on moist, open, sandy soils and serpentine barrens.

Wetland codes

Flowers May through August.

PA status: PE (Endangered)
S-rank: S1 (Critically imperiled)
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)