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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - December 06, 2011

From: Golden, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Information on orchid Spiranthes odorata from Golden MS
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in N.W. MS and am fortunate enough to receive 'Wildflower'. Even though it's geared to TX I was wondering if you can provide me information on the Spiranthes odorata that sprang up in my yard this Summer. Where I saw them growing, I have something around them to prevent their being mowed down. I'm a windowsill orchid grower of 12 yrs. and you can't imagine how thrilled I was when I saw at least a dozen this past Summer scattered about the yard. I took pics. should you wish to see them.

ANSWER:

Thank you for the nice words about the Lady Bird Wildflower Center magazine Wildflower. While we admit we are headquartered in Austin, TX, we are looking at our Winter 2011 issue and see articles about places and plants in many parts of the United States. Mr. Smarty Plants answers question on native plants from all 50 states and Canadian provinces. We also receive questions from many foreign countries, allthough, by definition, we can't help them much, since we are dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. In our Native Plant Database, you will find a list of over 7200 plants native to North America. You can sort them by the state in which plants grow natively, type of plant (shrub, tree, etc) and find pictures and propagation instructions. So, we live in Texas, but we do know about the rest of the country.

From Flora of North America, here is a rather scholarly article on Spiranthes odorata (Marsh lady's tresses). From Missosuri Botanical Garden, a little more understandable article. Also from Flora of North America here is information on Spiranthes cernua (Nodding lady's tresses).There seems to be some confusion in various references about these two orchids. Sometimes one is named as a synonym for the other and vice versa. Botanists like to change the names of plants every few years just to keep Mr. Smarty Plants on his toes. 

We suggest you follow the plant links on both orchids to our webpages on them, and also read the Flora of North America articles. Thank you for offering us pictures; unfortunately, we are not set up in Mr. Smarty Plants to receive pictures.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Marsh ladies'-tresses
Spiranthes odorata

Nodding ladies'-tresses
Spiranthes cernua

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