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Published In: Boston Journal of Natural History 5(2): 236. 1845. (Boston J. Nat. Hist.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Native


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7. Spiranthes vernalis Engelm. & A. Gray (spring ladies’ tresses, twisted ladies’ tresses)

Pl. 117 f, g; Map 487

Flowering stems (20–)50–100 cm long, with dense, short, jointed, nonglandular hairs in the inflorescence. Basal leaves (1–)4–6, present at flowering time, 5–26 cm long, linear, glabrous. Flowers appearing as a single spiral along the flowering stems. Sepals and lateral petals 6–9.5 mm long, white, the lateral sepals free to the base or nearly so, only slightly spreading, oriented parallel to the rest of the perianth or nearly so. Lip 6–9 mm long, ovate, the margins irregularly toothed toward the tip, white, tinged with pale yellow in the middle of the inner surface. Column 2 mm long, green. 2n=30. June–September.

Widely scattered in Missouri, mostly south of the Missouri River (eastern U.S. west to Texas; Mexico, Central America). Mesic and dry upland prairies, also in prairielike embankments along roads and railroads, less commonly in prairie fens.

Spiranthes vernalis is the tallest species of ladies’ tresses in the state, and it flowers earlier than the other species that have inflorescences appearing as a single spiral. As with many other orchids, the number of flowering plants varies greatly from year to year, with abundant flowering stems at some sites followed by years when the plants are not noticeable.



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