Terrestrial Orchids

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Anonymous
Title: Guest

Mark,

    We have a similar orchid in the Chicago Region.  Some of them have traits of Spiranthes magnicamporum.  Others look exactly like the orchid you posted.  The attached photo is from a colony I found that I thought was Spiranthes casei.  The experts tell me the Spiranthes in the attached photo is Spiranthes cernua.  I've just given up on trying to distinguish Spiranthes cernua, magnicamporum, and casei.  I think at least Spiranthes cernua and Spiranthes magicamporum integrate and can only be distinguished in their most distinctive specimens.
    Irregardless of taxonomic confusion, you can frequently find Spiranthes in open habitats from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Coast.  The habitat is usually given as wet areas for Spiranthes cernua. However, I find Spiranthes cernua in drier locations.  I think wetland habitats are listed because these were historically the only habitat in the East with a disturbance regime that kept the habitat in full sunlight.  I frequently find large colonies of Spiranthes in dry fields that were previously in agriculture.  I have been told it will grow from sown seed to flowering within three years in appropriate habitat.  Most people I have talked to who have dug them for their gardens eventually lost them.  They are so common I have always wondered why people try cultivation.  If they would only look around I am sure they would find a number of wild populations nearby that they could enjoy.

James

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Welcome to the forum, James! 

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Hello James, thanks for your input on this, and I'd love to see more.  Isn't it funny (not really) how adaptable plants can be.  Minnesota has three major biomes, prairie, deciduous woods and coniferous forest.  It is not uncommon to observe the same species in all three, but with a different accompanying environment.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Tony Willis
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-01

This is a picture of Spiranthes Autumnalis in SW Turkey and following the remarks on habitat I thought you may be interested in seeing it. It is widespread in Europe in a variety of habitats and this picture is of it flowering in October in a very dry situation in sparse pine woods. At that stage there had been no rain since April and it must be triggered into growth by the area cooling down in autumn. It is about 6 inches tall.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Welcome onboard James,

I'll be attending training all next week (Sept 26-29, flying back home the 30th, 2011) in St. Charles, Illinois, 34 miles west of O'Hare airport near Chicago. I'll keep my eyes focused on the native vegetation when I'm out running each day after training.  Your interesting post mentions other Spiranthes species names with which I was unfamiliar, so I googled, here are some results:

Spiranthes cernua page at MissouriPlants.com
http://www.missouriplants.com/Whitealt/Spiranthes_cernua_page.html

Article by Barry Glick (the Glickster) of Sunshine Farm and Gardens
Spiranthes cernua odorata 'Chadds Ford' (a cultivar featuring slightly taller stems and larger flowers).  While S. odorata and S. cernua have been distinct species for a long time, one still finds the combination "Spiranthes cernua var. odorata (Nutt.) Correll (1940)"
http://www.sunfarm.com/picks/spiranthescernuaodoratachaddsford-124020.phtml

Spiranthes cernua
on the fine Kansas Wildflowers & Grasses site, with links to Spiranthes lacera  var. gracilis and Spiranthes vernalis.
http://www.kswildflower.org/flower_details.php?flowerID=248

Spiranthes in Flora of North America (23 species):
...also see long discussion under the S. cernua entry
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=131021

Snippet from the key in Flora of North America:

14 - Spiranthes cernua
Lip distally acute to rounded, not truncate, usually more than 7.5 mm (in shorter flowers ovary often much shorter than perianth); flowers white to yellowish, arcuate-nodding only at base of perianth.

15 - Spiranthes casei
Lip distally truncate, 5–7.5 mm; flowers yellowish, cream, or ivory, arcuate-nodding for most or all length of perianth.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Tony wrote:

This is a picture of Spiranthes Autumnalis in SW Turkey and following the remarks on habitat I thought you may be interested in seeing it. It is widespread in Europe in a variety of habitats and this picture is of it flowering in October in a very dry situation in sparse pine woods. At that stage there had been no rain since April and it must be triggered into growth by the area cooling down in autumn. It is about 6 inches tall.

Fascinating little orchids, the way the flowers spiral up around the stem.  Checking IPNI.ORG, there are over 900 name entries for Spiranthes, so evidently this is a big genus. Interesting to see how such a plant with well produced spire of flowers as S. autumnalis, can do so without moisture in the summer.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Anonymous
Title: Guest

Tony,

    The photo of Spiranthes autumnalis you posted looks a lot like the North American species, Spiranthes lacera.

James

Anonymous
Title: Guest

Mark,

    The population of Spiranthes I found had flowers ranging from 6.5 mm long to 13 mm.  The specimen that our regional expert ended up collecting was on the larger side.  This is why I believe the dried specimen ended up being identified as Spiranthes cernua.  This surprised me considering a consensus had been reached that the plant was Spiranthes casei based on photos I had taken earlier.  These original photos were of the first plant I discovered which had flower that were only 7 mm long.

James

Tony Willis
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-01

James wrote:

Tony,

     The photo of Spiranthes autumnalis you posted looks a lot like the North American species, Spiranthes lacera.

James

James,nice to see you on the forum. It could be the same thing!( I just saw Mark's post that flora of N. America gives 23 species of spiranthes,have they never heard of natural variation?)

It is not easy to grow and the Turkish ones are certainly tender and yet elsewhere across its range it is quite hardy.

Anonymous
Title: Guest

Tony,

    Although I have not read the paper, I am told genetic studies have been done to distinguish at least some of the species.  However, this does not mean these species cannot produce stable hybrids.

James

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