Spiranthes – Ladies' Tresses
Ladies' Tresses are small to rather large plants with fleshy, bundled roots and narrow, basal or stem leaves which are reduced above to sheathing bracts.
The flowers are arranged in a rather tight terminal spike, usually in spirally twisted lengthways rows, the color being mostly white or dust-colored (in our species) but often tinged with yellow, pink, red, or brownish-purple. The sepals are free or touching with the petals, and often forming a long hood enclosing the reproductive column and much of the lip. The lip is short and narrowed at base, or stalkless, strongly grooved-concave near the base and more or less enclosing the reproductive column, and spreading to curved backward at the tip. The reproductive column is short (in our species) to fairly long, bearing the single anther on the back, tipped by a pointed, 2-toothed, sticky-based (stigma-bearing) sterile beak-like projection. The 2 pollen sacs are commonly covered with a sticky pollen-collecting substance.
The genus consists of 200 or more species worldwide, according to some authors, by others less than 100. The plants are largely confined to temperate areas of both the Americas and Eurasia. The name comes from the Greek speira, coil, and anthos, flower, in reference to the twisted flower cluster.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Spiranthes
S. romanzoffiana – Hooded Ladies' Tresses
Stems hairless, 10-40 cm tall. Moist to swampy areas, foothills to montane. Flowers whitish, sweet-scented, many in spiralling rows in a dense spike. Leaves alternate, near the base of the stem, narrowly oblong, 8-20 cm long.
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