ghost orchid

Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)

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 Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Description:
Synonyms: Limodorum lanceolatum Aubl., Hist. Pl. Guiane 2: 821 (1775). Neottia lanceolata (Aubl.) Willd., Sp. Pl. 4: 73 (1805). Stenorrhynchos lanceolatum (Aubl.) Rich., De Orchid. Eur.: 37 (1817). Gyrostachys lanceolata (Aubl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 664 (1891). Spiranthes lanceolata (Aubl.) León, Contr. Ocas. Mus. Hist. Nat. Colegio 'De Le Salle' 8: 358 (1946). Sacoila paludicola (Luer) P.M.Br., N. Amer. Native Orchid J. 14: 187 (2008).

Summary: Large terrestrial orchids. Leaves form a basal rosette throughout the late spring, summer, and autumn, with thick leaves up to 12 inches (30.5 cm). Leaves fade with the first frost. Flower spikes emerge in early spring to open in summer. Flower spikes to two feet (0.6 meters) tall with flower heads up to six inches (15 cm) tall with one inch (2.5 cm) long, tubular flowers typically a coral-red color (occasionally green or yellow).

Common Name: Scarlet Ladies' Tresses

Habitat: Moist roadsides; open, wet situations.

Flowering season: March through June (peaking in May)

Images:
 
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - four flower spikes.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - four flower spikes.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - single inflorescence.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - single inflorescence.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - closeup.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - closeup.
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - plants on a roadside.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - plants on a roadside.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - single inflorescence with natural background.
Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) - single inflorescence with natural background.
Scarlet Ladies Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses, Green Form (Sacoila lanceolata fma. albidaviridis)

Description:
 

This is one of our most conspicuous species of orchids, made all the more so because it typically favors open, wet to semi-wet situations which are common roadside conditions in Florida.

In spring and early summer, this species bears spectacular racemes of inch-long, tubular flowers which are typically a coral-red color. In the typical variety, var. lanceolata, the leaves are absent at flowering in May-June. In var. paludicola, an inhabitant of swampy areas found in both Sarasota and the Big Cypress Swamp area in Collier County, the leaves are present as it blooms during the April time frame. In addition to these two varieties, several color forms of the typical variety are sometimes found. S. lanceolata var. lanceolata fma. folsomii has reduced reddish coloration, giving it a golden-yellow appearance. By contrast, S. lanceolata var. lanceolata fma. albidaviridis has no coloration, being a pure green color that blends well with the grassy fields it typically calls home.

The leaves themselves, which emerge after flowering can be rather large, forming basal rosettes up to 2 feet (0.6 m) in diameter.

One of the best places to see this species in bloom is along the Florida Turnpike between Orlando and Yeehaw Junction in early-mid May.

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