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Spiranthes lucida (H.H. Eaton) Ames

Shining ladies’-tresses

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyOrchidaceaeOrchid family
GenusSpiranthesFrom the Greek speira, “spiral,” and anthos, “flower,” referring to the coiled or spiral character of the inflorescence, and hence the common name “ladies tresses”

About plant names...

Shining ladies’-tresses are native to eastern North America. They prefer saturated, calcium-bearing, and gravelly or sandy soils, such as damp thickets and meadows.

Plants: 1½-16″ (4-40 cm) high, with leaves only at the base.

Leaves: 3-5 light green basal leaves are lanceolate to oblong, up to 4½″ (12 cm) long and ¼-½″ (7-15 mm) wide. They are distinctly shiny.

Flowers: Up to 20 flowers are wrapped in a tight spiral on a hairy spike. Sepals are ~3/16″ (5-5.5 mm) long, and fused at the base for ~0.7 mm. The interior of the tubular flower is yellow, with green lines. Flowers appear from May to early July, earlier than similar species.

Fruits: Seeds have a net-veined coating.

Here are some similar species:


Spiranthes lucida (shining ladies’-tresses)

8/28/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 4½ × 7″ (11 × 16 cm)

Spiranthes lucida (shining ladies’-tresses)

8/28/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 4 × 6″ (10 × 16 cm)

Spiranthes cernua

Spiranthes romanzoffiana
Common Name

common ladies’-tresses

hooded ladies’-tresses
Plant Up to 1′ (40 cm) tall, though most of this height is the flower stalk. 2½-16″ (7-40 cm) high.
Flowers The raceme (flowerhead) is up to 4½″ (12 cm) high, roughly cone-shaped, on a single stem well above the leaves. Tiny white flowers about ⅜″ (1 cm) long spiral around the spike. Flowers are tubular in shape, yellow in the center, with small sharp-tipped petals. Flowers appear between August and November. Up to 40 flowers are arranged spirally around a nearly hairless spike ¾-6″ (2-14 cm) high. Sepals and petals are fused together, and ¼-⅜″ (8-12 mm) long. They appear from May to September. Sepals are broad and white
Leaves A few long, narrow leaves occur, mostly at the base of the plant; they are 4-8″ (10-20 cm) long and ⅛-¾″ (5-20 mm) wide. 2 to 3, rarely up to 5 Basal leaves are 2½-8″ (7-20 cm) × ⅛-⅜″ (6-12 mm). Leaves are linear or lanceolate.
Range/ Zones

Type Wild Wild


Online References:



The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Www.nrc.gov (PDF)


Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 380

Ibidium plantagineum (Raf.) House


Spiranthes lucida description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 31 Aug 2021.

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