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Dry to moist meadows, dune hollows, prairies, old fields, roadsides, cemeteries, lawns.
Atlantic coastal plain from MA to FL, west to Ohio River Valley, Kansas and TX.
Perennial 20-65 cm. Roots numerous, spreading, mostly to 1 cm diam., stout. Leaves persisting through anthesis, to 4–5, basal, reduced to sheathing bracts upward on stem, spreading, linear-lanceolate, keeled, 5–25 × 1 cm. Inflorescences: spikes loosely to tightly spiraled, 3–7 or more flowers per cycle of spiral, sometimes nearly secund; rachis densely pubescent, trichomes articulate, pointed, capitate glands absent. Flowers nodding to somewhat ascending, white to cream, mostly gaping; sepals distinct to base, lanceolate, 6–10 × 2–3 mm; lateral sepals spreading; petals oblong, 6–9 × 2 mm, apex obtuse; lip creamy yellow centrally or some individuals with 2 brown-orange spots, ovate, 5–8 × 4 mm; veins of lip straight, branches parallel; basal calli conic, to 1 mm; viscidium linear-lanceolate; ovary mostly 8 mm. Seeds monoembryonic. 2n = 30.
Flowers from January in Florida to October in the north. In southern NY and NJ it flowers in July.
Wetland indicator: NA
This species is sometimes confused with S. lacera, from which it can be distinguished by its centrally yellow lip rather than green. It can be distinguished from all similar species by the presence in the inflorescence of abundant articulate, pointed trichomes (hairs).
Sheviak, C.J. and P.M. Brown. 2002. Spiranthes. pp. 498, 499, 530, 537. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds., Flora of North America north of Mexico, vol. 26. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. Available at http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=131021 [accessed March 2021].
Michael Hough © 2021