An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Nodding Ladies’ Tresses Flowering

9-14-17 nodding ladies' tresses 011Nodding Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes cernua) are flowering in wetlands throughout New England. This diminutive orchid is described to perfection by as a “spiraling stalk of closely clustered, crystally translucent white flowers thrusting their twisting trumpets out at right angles to the stalk.” The downward “nodding” curve of its tubular flowers and the vague resemblance of the flower stalk to a braid may account for its common name. The flower stalk is anywhere from four to twelve inches high and the lightly fragrant delicate flowers, like those of most orchids, are resupinate. That is, they twist during their development into an upside-down position.


9 responses

  1. Diane

    So pretty!

    September 14, 2017 at 7:34 am

  2. Sue Wetmore

    I love finding these diminutive beauties!

    September 14, 2017 at 7:39 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    Mary, you find the most amazing flowers!

    September 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

  4. Most orchids have a set ecological niche. Where do I look for this flower: wetlands ? bogs ? rich hardwood forest ? Thanks!

    September 14, 2017 at 10:16 am

    • This one isn’t that particular…habitat includes fens, forest edges, grassland, meadows and fields, ridges or ledges, wetland margins (edges of wetlands), woodlands.

      September 14, 2017 at 11:25 am

      • Thanks Mary. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable concerning wildflowers. This is new to me. I’ll be looking.

        September 15, 2017 at 8:17 pm

  5. Found more than 100 of these beauties blooming in the wet meadow portion of our mowing in Marlboro, VT, in about the same location as the green fringed orchis (Platanthera lacer) in July. Very surprised to also discover some 100 marsh violets (Viola cucullata) also blooming this week with the ladies’-tresses. Think that’s a first for me, finding spring violets blossoming in September.

    I also love the Minnesota Wildflowers reference site, glad you gave them a nod.

    September 14, 2017 at 10:47 am

  6. These appear to be the same as what we have appearing in several areas of our damp lawn and meadow (not or not often mowed; 1,100′ elev. below ledge and mossy slope) here in Bethel, ME.

    September 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

  7. Bill On The Hill...

    I have a batch of these beauties growing just outside my window here in the highlands of Corinth, VT ( 1840 ft. ) Apparently they like plenty of sun and they are growing close to the edge of woods, but in the lawn that is quite full of ledge material just beneath the surface. Most are 4″ – 6″ tall and have a very pleasant fragrance…
    Bill Farr…

    September 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm

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