AUTUMN LADY'S-TRESSES

Spiranthes spiralis

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8green
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ2
(4) 
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8almonds smell8vanilla smell8fragrant
almonds
rarity
rarityZuncommon
 

15 Sept 2010, Mid Sussex. Photo: © Rupert Browning
White flowers with two main lips, and green deep inside. Could be thought of as having four petals.


15 Sept 2010, Mid Sussex. Photo: © Rupert Browning
Flowers in a helical row held close to the stem.


15 Sept 2010, Mid Sussex. Photo: © Rupert Browning
Like two other Lady's-Tresses, has flowers that spiral up the stem. As viewed from the top, the curl is clockwise, as if influenced by the tracking Sun.


15 Sept 2010, Mid Sussex. Photo: © Rupert Browning
Small scale-like leaves scattered up the stem. Flowers have two lips, which look like four petals. Stem and leaves woolly downy, giving the plant a greyish green appearance.


18 Sept 2010, Mid Sussex. Photo: © Rupert Browning
The four-jaw nature of the flowers is apparent here: a large curved and greenish lower tongue, two wings and an upper hood. the petals are covered in short white hairs. Note the pale green paper-thin scale-like leaves curled around the mid-part of the stem.


unknown date, downland, Wiltshire. Photo: © Peter Andrews
Oh, look, I can see right up your nose!
Flowers 4 to 6mm. Lower lip is the longest petal and is curled over downwards and backwards. It has a frilly edge. Two Vulcan delta wings either side of the lip, like a bird. The 4th petal, the hood, is on the upper part of the flower and is curled upwards near the end. The sexual organs are mostly hidden just beneath this hood. On the lowest flower here is a bract with a narrow tapering finger curving around the top of this flower. They all do this, but you can see this one clearly.
The many short hairs are patent, sticking outwards.


18 Sept 2010, Mid Sussex. Photo: © Rupert Browning
The leaves are all in a basal rosette and are broad and oval.


Not to be confused with : Lady's-Mantle, Lady's Bedstraw, Lady's Teardrops, nor Lady-Fern, [plants of similar names belonging to different families]. Nor to Lady's-Slipper Orchid or Lady Orchid [other members of the Orchid Family].

Can be confused with plants from the same Genus: Lady's-Tresses such as Summer Lady's-Tresses (Spiranthes aesitvalis), Irish Lady's-Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) which also have the flowers arranged spirally up the stem and Creeping Lady's-Tresses (Goodyera repens), which doesn't.

Said to smell variously of 'almonds', 'vanilla' or to have a 'fragrant' aroma, take your pick. Probably more than one volatile compound contributes to the complex smell.

Habitat: Likes grassland. Occupies mainly southern UK.

The basal leaves, which are broad and bluish-green, wither before the flowering stem emerges. The four petals differ from the usual arrangement of three 'petals' and upper and lower lips so prevalent amongst orchids.


  Spiranthes spiralis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Spiranthes
Spiranthes
(Lady's-Tresses)

AUTUMN LADY'S-TRESSES

Spiranthes spiralis

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

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