Spiranthes ovalis Lindl. - October Ladies' Tresses


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Spiranthes ovalis - (image 1 of 8)



Family: Orchidaceae


Moist woods, bottomlands, fields, pastures.




Central PA to southwest WI and IA, south to FL and TX. Disjunct in northern NY and Ontario.


Perennial to 30 cm. Basal leaves 2-3, to 12 cm long and 5-10(-15) mm wide; cauline sheaths 3-4, the lower with recurved blade 2-5 cm; inflorescence 2-6 cm, the axis glandular-pubescent, densely flowered in 3 or 4 vertical ranks; flowers widely spreading or somewhat deflexed, urceolate cylindric, white to creamy or greenish; sepals and lateral petals 3.5-5 mm, the petal usually widest in the distal third with a single vein; lip 4-5 mm, ovate-oblong, rounded distally, often somewhat constricted near the middle, the basal callosities slender, less than 1 mm (but rather large relative to the lip compared to other species); 2n=30.


Flowers September to October

Wetland indicator: FAC

These pictures are of var. erostellata Catling which is autogamous and lacking a viscidium and rostellum. This variety has the widest distribution.

Typical S. ovalis is restricted to FL, TN, AR, LA, and TX.


Daniel, S. and A. Johnson. 2017. Spiranthes ovalis var. erostellata (Orchidaceae) new to New York. Phytoneuron 2017-72: 15. Published 25 October 2017.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


Pace, M.C. and Cameron, K.M. The systematics of the Spiranthes cernua species complex (Orchidaceae): Untangling the Gordian Knot. Systematic Botany, 42(4):1-30.




 Michael Hough 2018