Spiranthes lacera (Raf.) Raf.

Slender Ladies' Tresses

Facts About

Accepted Synonym: Neottia lacera

Spiranthes lacera, commonly called Slender Ladies' Tresses, is widely distributed across eastern and central Canada and the United States, from Alberta to Florida. It produces 2-4 basal leaves which usually wither before or at the time of flowering in the summer or fall. It bears an inflorescence of up to 40 small white flowers arranged in a tight spiral. It can be distinguished from other species of Spiranthes by the distinctive green spot on its labellum and the edges are somewhat crenulate and rolled inward. It can be found in moist to dry meadows, fields, prairies, open woods, and disturbed areas such as along roadsides and in lawns.

Spiranthes lacera is considered globally secure, although it is rare or vulnerable throughout much of its western range and parts of the east.


This orchid is pollinated by a variety of long tongued bees including Anthidiellum notatum, Bombus perplexus, Bombus terricola, Bombus vagans, Calliopsis andreniformis, Hoplitis truncata, Lasioglossum imitatum, Megachile brevis and Megachile inermis. 2-4 days after anthesis, the column and lip separate and the stigma becomes sticky and receptive for pollinia.

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties

There are two varieties of Spiranthes lacera:
Spiranthes lacera var. lacera has leaves which persist during flowering, a loose inflorescence, and small hairs covering the inflorescence.
Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis has leaves which wither before flowering, a dense inflorescence, and is entirely hairless.

Ecosystem Type

Disturbed habitats, grassland, meadows, prairie, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is simple
Main color of labellum:
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a spike
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is simple
Labellum length:
3–6.5 mm
Plant height:
15–75 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 Secure

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data