ghost orchid

Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides)

Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids Website

Classification:
  Kingdom:   Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom:   Tracheobionta - Vascular Plants
      Superdivision:   Spermatophyta - Seed plants
        Division:   Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
          Class:   Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
            Subclass:   Liliidae - Subclass containing lily and orchid relatives
              Order:   Orchidales - Orchid order
                Family:   Orchidaceae - Orchid Family
                  Subfamily:   Spiranthoideae - Spiranthoids
                    Tribe:   Cranichideae - Cranichids
                      Subtribe:   Spiranthinae - Spiranthines


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides)
Description:
Synonyms: Pelexia cranichoides Grisebach, Cat. Pl. Cub., 269. 1866; Beadlea cranichoides (Grisebach) Small; B. storeri (Chapman) Small; Sauroglossum cranichoides (Grisebach) Ames; Spiranthes cranichoides (Grisebach) Cogniaux; Spiranthes storeri Chapman

Summary: Plant a small-medium terrestrial with a basal rosette of ovate leaves and a series of short, fleshy roots. Inflorescence a spike bearing 5 to 30 small (1 cm long) tubular flowers with green sepals, petals with green and maroon strips, and a lip with a white center lobe and side lobes with maroon stripes.

Common Name: Speckled Ladies Tresses

Habitat: Hammocks, moist lowlands, upland hammocks.

Flowering season: February through April (peaking in March)

Images:
 
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Closeup
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Closeup
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Closeup
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Closeup
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Closeup
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Closeup
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Plants
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Plants
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Leaves
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Leaves
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Plant.
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Plant.
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike
Speckled Ladies Tresses (Cyclopogon cranichoides) Flower Spike

Description:
 

This species is found infrequently in woodlands throughout peninsular Florida, where it grows primarily in moist soils, but can occasionally be found in drier areas as well.

In the spring, the small inflorescences emerge from the center of a small rosette of deep green leaves sometimes tinged with purple. The roots are extremely short and fleshy, sometimes barely holding the plant in place, making it easy to dislodge a plant with a careless step.

Soon after flowering, the leaves begin to wilt, to be replaced with a new rosette of leaves a few months later.

The flowers are small and dainty, arranged in a typical spike for many in the Spiranthes subtribe. The hooded dorsal sepal and the two spreading lateral sepals are green with brown-maroon spots. The two petals peek out from under the dorsal sepal and are green, white, and maroon striped. The side lobes of the lip match the appearance of the petals, with the center lobe by contrast a pure, sparkling white. The outsides of the flowers are covered in dense pubescence, giving them a sparkling appearance.

I have encountered rosettes of this species infrequently for a number of years while examining other woodland species, such as Malaxis unifolia and Mesadenus lucayanus, but my first encounter with these delicate flowers was in the spring of 2017.

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