Habenaria repens Nutt.

Water Spider Orchid

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Orchis repens, Platanthera repens

Habenaria repens, commonly known as the Water Spider Orchid, is distributed in North Carolina south to Florida, and west to southeastern Arkansas and Texas. Its range extends into the West Indies, Central America, and Mexico. It can be a terrestrial or truly aquatic orchid species and has been known to form floating mats in stagnant pools. This species produces 3-8 yellow green leaves that emerge from the stem and gradually reduce in size towards the inflorescence. The inflorescence has 10-50 flowers arranged in a densely flowered raceme. The sepals are light green and the petals and lip of each flower are a greenish white. The labellum is lobed with a spur up to 13 mm in length. Habenaria repens blooms throughout the year in wet ditches, meadows, marshes and along shorelines.

Habenaria repens is considered secure globally, although it may be vulnerable in parts of its North American range.


At night the green flowers emit a strong vanilla-like fragrance to attract moth pollinators. A long spur extends down from the rear of the lip with a drop of nectar at the bottom. This forces the moth to push its head deep into the flower, depositing pollen on the stigma and picking up a new load of pollen as it backs out of the flower.

Ecosystem Type

Bogs, disturbed habitats, floodplains, forests, marshes, meadows, shrublands or thickets, swamps


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
  • six
  • seven or more
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is lobed
Main color of labellum:
  • green to brown
  • white
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum has a spur
Labellum length:
6–9 mm
Sepal length:
3–6 mm
Plant height:
Up to 50 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data