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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Spiranthes cernua (Nodding lady's tresses)
Cressler, Alan

Spiranthes cernua

Spiranthes cernua (L.) Rich.

Nodding lady's tresses, Ladies' tresses, Nodding ladies' tresses orchid

Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Synonym(s): Ibidium cernuum, Spiranthes cernua var. incurva

USDA Symbol: spce

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Few people would guess that Spiranthes flowers are orchids, a fact that may help save them from collectors. The narrow, grasslike leaves are 8–10 inches long, growing from the base of the plant. The flowers are white and grow along the upper part of the slender, erect stem, which is 1–2 feet tall. They grow in 2–4 spiraling rows, forming a dense spike 6 inches long. The individual flowers, about 1/2 inch long, curve downward slightly, nodding. The lip is about 1/2 inch long, with a flaring, crimped margin. This is one of the few orchids that have a fragrance.

A dozen or more species of Ladies-tresses are known in the eastern United States. Among those with pronounced spirals are Slender Ladies-tresses (S. lacera), with ovate leaves and a green spot on the lip; Short-lipped Ladies-tresses (S. brevilabris), with a downy floral spike; and Little Ladies-tresses (S. tuberosa), with tiny flowers. In southern marshes and swamps Fragrant Ladies-tresses (S. odorata), grows to 2-3 (60-90 cm) and has spirally arranged clusters of fragrant flowers.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf: Green
Fruit:

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Purple
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Ontario to Nova Scotia and northern New England; south to Florida; west to Texas; north to South Dakota.
Native Habitat: Fields, damp meadows, moist thickets, and grassy swamps.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand

Benefit

Use Medicinal: Plant tea used as a diuretic for urinary disorders, venereal disease, and as a wash to strengthen infants. (Foster & Duke)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACW FACW FACW FACW FACW
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS

Bibliography

Bibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Spiranthes cernua in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Spiranthes cernua in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Spiranthes cernua

Metadata

Record Modified: 2014-08-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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