Nodding Ladies’ Tresses, Common Ladies’ Tresses, Nodding Spiranthes, Fragrant Ladies Tresses
Synonyms of Spiranthes cernua (12) (Updated on 1-4-23 from Plants of the World Online): Gyrostachys cernua (L.) Kuntze, Gyrostachys constricta Small, Ibidium cernuum (L.) House, Limodorum autumnale Walter, Neottia cernua (L.) Sw., Ophrys cernua L., Spiranthes annua Lesq. ex Branner & Coville, Spiranthes cernua var. ochroleuca Ames, Spiranthes constricta (Small) K.Schum., Spiranthes parksii Correll, Spiranthes petiolaris Raf., Triorchis cernuus (L.) Nieuwl.
Spiranthes cernua (L.) Rich. is the accepted scientific name for the Nodding Ladies’ Tresses. Both the genus and species were named and described as such by Louis Claude Marie Richard in De Orchideis Europaeis Annotationes in 1817. It was first named Ophrys cernua by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-4-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 40 species in the Spiranthes genus. It is a member of the plant family Orchidaceae with 707 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The above distribution map for Spiranthes cernua is from the USDA Plants Database. The map on Plants of the World Online doesn’t show as much of a range YET. I sent an email. 🙂 POWO gets most of their maps for North America from Flora of North America which is the same as the USDA map (this time). USDA gets their maps from BONAP BUT, the BONAP map has a larger range. HMMM… Most of the time the maps are more in harmony. Well, no map is perfect…
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I had been seeing this odd plant off and on in the main hayfield which becomes a pasture after the hay is cut for a few years. Once I started getting more into wildflowers on the farm I decided I would make a positive ID for this one. I had started using iNaturalist’s drag and drop feature rather than looking through a lot of photos online. It is so much easier. Anyway, even though I used iNaturalist I was still a bit confused… After a little research on a few other websites, I came to the conclusion they were either Spiranthes cernua or perhaps S. magnicamporum. SO, I just added the observation as a member of the Spiranthes genus and hoped another member would help out.
To complicate matters more, not only is there the species Spiranthes cernua but there is also a Spiranthes cernua Complex… The complex includes Spiranthes arcisepala, S. cernua, S. incurva (ancient hybrid between S. cernua and S. magnicamporum), S. magnicamporum, S. niklasii (ancient hybrid between S. cernua and S. ovalis), S. ochroleuca, and S. x kapnosperia (S. cernua x S. ochroleuca).
After several members gave their opinion we leaned toward Spiranthes cernua. Of all the species in the complex, only S. cernua, S. incurva, and S. magnicamporum are found in Missouri.
Besides identifying S. cernua in 2018, I have identified S. lacera var. gracilis (Southern Slender Ladies Tresses) in 2019, and S. magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) in 2021… Thanks to iNaturalist and a few of its members. All in different areas on the farm and all with subtle differences. Are we sure? Well, that is a secret. 🙂
I apologize for not writing descriptions at the moment. I am busy updating the plant pages, adding photos I took over the summer and adding pages for plants I identified in 2021. This is a wintertime project… I will go back later and add descriptions as I have time. There are several links at the bottom of the page written by experts that know much more than I do. Writing descriptions of the plant, flowers, stems, leaves, etc. is a lengthy process and I get behind. 🙂
I wrote a post on October 25 in 2021 titled Silly Spiranthes (Ladies Tresses) that you can read if you like…
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 100 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂