Spiranthes lacera (Slender Ladies'-Tresses) - photos and description













A few small bracts on the stem in above photo

Basal leaf in above photo

General: Slender erect orchid with one to several stems from a rosette of basal leaves. Stems either glabrous or with a few hairs.

Flowers: Inflorescence in a spike arranged in a single spiral down the stem. The flowers with white petals and sepals, the lip is ruffled with a green centre, the lateral petals and dorsal sepal form a hood over the lip. The lateral sepals are linear and spreading. We measured flowers at 5 mm long. The flowers have a faint scent.We measured flowers at 5 mm long and 4 mm diameter. Flowers have a faint scent.

Leaves: Leaves in a basal rosette, oblong to ovate, with or without petioles. We observed a few plants with linear bracts on the stem, they were alternate, we measured a stem bract at 15 mm long and 1 mm wide. Top of  basal leaves with a few short hairs, bottom of basal leaves glabrous.

Height: Height listed in Budd's Flora to 40 cm. We measured plants to 28 cm tall.

Habitat: Sandy jack pine woods.

Abundance: Rare, ranked as an S3 (as of 2021) by the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre. This plant is extremely rare in our experience. In our quest to photograph all of Saskatchewan's native orchid species, this plant was so difficult to find it became the last species we had yet to photograph. We even found Malaxis paludosa before this species.

Origin: Native.

Similar species: This orchid might be mistaken for 2 other white-flowered orchids which bloom at the same time:

  • Spiranthes romanzoffiana has flowers in denser spike forming multiple spirals down the stem, basal leaves that are linear lanceolate, and flowers without a green throat.

  • Goodyera repens has mottled basal leaves, and flowers in a dense spike, flowers without a wavy lower lip, and without a green throat.

When and where photographed: Photos taken July 31st, August 7th and 8th, open sandy jack pine forest, east central Saskatchewan, about 450 km northeast of our home in Regina, SK.