Spiranthes ochroleuca (Rydb.) Rydb.

Yellow Ladies' Tresses

Facts About

Accepted Synonym: Spiranthes steigeri

Spiranthes ochroleuca, commonly called Yellow Ladies' Tresses, has a limited distribution in northeastern Canada and the United States, from Ontario to South Carolina. It produces 3-6 basal and lower stem leaves which usually persist through flowering. It bears an inflorescence of up to 60 small white, yellowish, or greenish-white flowers that are arranged in a spiral. The labellum has crenulate margins and is often colored with yellow at the center. The inflorescence is covered in small hairs. It prefers dry, open habitats and can be found in open woodlands, thickets, dry meadows, fields, and along roadsides. It is known to form a hybrid with S. casei, named S. x borealis.

Spiranthes ochroleuca is globally considered apparently secure, although it is rare in several mid-Atlantic states and vulnerable throughout much of its western range.


Although this orchid is capable of agamospermy, bumblebees such as Bombus impatiens, Bombus pensylvanicus and Bombus vagans pollinate the flowers as they forage for nectar.

Ecosystem Type

Disturbed habitats, meadows, shrublands or thickets, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
  • basal
  • stem
Number of leaves on stem:
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is simple
Main color of labellum:
  • green to brown
  • white
  • yellow
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a spike
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is simple
Labellum length:
7–12 mm
Sepal length:
6–14 mm
Plant height:
10–55 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 Apparently Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status May Be At Risk

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data