Spiranthes lucida (H. H. Eaton) Ames
Wide-leaved ladies'-tresses, shining ladies'-tresses
The specific epithet lucida is the Latin meaning "shining,"
and refers to the glossy leaves of this species.
DESCRIPTION: Plant essentially
glabrous, 8-25 cm tall (including inflorescence), arising from a cluster
of fleshy roots. Leaves 3-4, basal, elliptical to lanceolate, 3-10
cm long and 0.5-1.5 cm wide, light green and glossy. Inflorescence
a glabrous or sparsely downy, spicate raceme of 10-20 tiny white flowers,
typically 2-3 ranked, 8-25 cm tall, each flower subtended by an elongate,
ovate-lanceolate bract. Sepals linear-oblong, 3-5 mm long and about
2 mm wide, the lateral sepals appressed and with margins inrolled, dorsal
sepal connivent with petals to form a hood over the column and labellum,
sepals snowy white. Petals linear, 4-5 mm long and about 1 mm wide,
colored as the sepals and closely appressed to the sepals, tips of sepals
and petals reflexed slightly. Labellum oblong, 3-5 mm long and 2-3
mm wide, white and crystalline in texture, with a bright yellow center that
does not quite extend to the apex, the margins inrolled, the apex slightly
bent downwards, margin erose, the base of the labellum with two small calli.
SIMILAR SPECIES: If Spiranthes lucida were to be found in Wisconsin,
it is unlikely that it could be confused with any other species of Spiranthes.
The bright yellow spot on the labellum and the wide, shiny leaves are distinctive.
HABITAT: Usually found in saturated, calcareous, usually gravelly or
sandy soils. Typical habitats include stream and river banks or floodplain
terraces, fens, and old quarries or gravel pits.
FLOWERING DATES: In nearby states, Spiranthes lucida blooms from
late May to early July. It is the earliest blooming of the eastern North
American species of Spiranthes.
POLLINATION: Catling (1983b)
observed halictid bees pollinating Spiranthes lucida in Ontario.
S. lucida is unique among North American Spiranthes in placing
its pollinia on the "chin" of its pollinators, which approach
the flowers upside-down .
DISCUSSION: Spiranthes lucida is not confirmed to exist in
Wisconsin. According to Fuller (1933), S. lucida has been listed
for Milwaukee County, but a confirming herbarium record has never been found.
However, S. lucida is found in Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa, not
far from suitable habitat in Wisconsin. About 15 years ago, Don Henson collected
S. lucida on the Michigan side of the Menominee River, placing lucida
within meters of Wisconsin. This species should be diligently searched
for in fens and along stream and river banks, particularly those flowing
through areas of calcareous substrate.
Return to the main LIST of the Orchids
Return to the main KEY to the Orchids of