Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Giant-spiral Ladies'-tresses - Spiranthes longilabris   Lindley
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Section 5 » Order Orchidales » Family Orchidaceae
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AuthorLindley
DistributionLimited to the southeastern Coastal Plain, nearly restricted to coastal counties from Carteret to Brunswick, with records also for Bladen and Beaufort counties. The last county is a photo record from fall 2020 that has been confirmed by M. Pace at the New York Botanical Garden.

This is a globally scarce Southeastern species, with scattered records only from southeastern NC to southern FL, and west to extreme eastern TX.
AbundanceVery rare to rare; one of the scarcest Spiranthes in the state. As such, it is listed as a State Endangered species.
HabitatThis is a species primarily of savannas, and even within savannas it favors the wettest portions. There are a few NC records from scrapes within savannas.
See also Habitat Account for Wet, Sandy, Fire-maintained Herblands
PhenologyThis is likely the latest-blooming Spiranthes (if not orchid) in the state, not in flower until late October and extending into December. It fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized ladies'-tresses in stature, generally about 1-2 feet tall. It has white to creamy-white flowers arranged in a very slight spiral around the stem, to somewhat secund (vertically arranged). It normally has quite long and spreading lateral sepals, giving each flower a somewhat "long-eared" appearance, and the lip on the inside is usually yellow to occasionally green. Flowers are also a bit larger than most other Spiranthes, being roughly 1/3-inch long. Normally, its very late blooming period -- often not in bloom until very late October or November -- along with its wet savanna habitat should suffice for identification.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Long-lipped Ladies'-tresses, Giant Spiral Orchid
State RankS1
Global RankG3
State StatusE
US Status
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