Sunday, September 16, 2012

Northern Slender Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes lacera)

August 25th, 2012. I always think of orchids as plants loving the moist, cool atmosphere in woods so it’s always a surprise to see them in the open in full sun. But there it was. A lady’s tresses orchid standing in a west-facing location in the full afternoon sun in 90-F temperatures. Along the road to Pond 2A in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Jones County, Georgia. It was s beautiful specimen, standing 12 to 15 minutes tall. It was in such good condition that I had to sit beside it to photograph it.

There it is! Right in the center of the photo. A lone orchid standing in the open in the afternoon sun in the 90s F.

Looking down at it

View of the flowering part

Closer view of the top

Closer view of the mid-section. The flowers are in perfect shape.

Closer views of individual flowers.

Still closer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in such beautiful condition. It’s one of those lucky ‘right place-right time’ things.

We found another patch of lady’s tresses beside another road in the refuge. The flowers were older but a Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) was working them.

Spiranthes lacera (Northern Slender Lady's Tresses, Southern Slender Ladies'-tresses) is native to the United States, where it’s found in eastern states from New England to Wisconsin and Nebraska and south to Texas. In Georgia, it’s found mainly in counties in north Georgia although it’s not been formally documented from Jones County.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
- Name that Plant: Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis (Southern Slender Ladies'-tresses)
- Missouri Plants: Spiranthes lacera
- Connecticut Botanical Society, Connecticut Wildflowers: Slender Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes lacera)

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Spiranthes lacera (Northern Slender Lady's Tresses) 
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis 

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