Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Western or Creamy Lady's Tresses, SPIRANTHES PORRIFOLIA

page June 14, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:

Back East sometimes you run into lots of Ladies-Tresses Orchids so when I saw some here I didn't think much about it, just photographed one, which is shown above.

That's the Western or Creamy Lady's Tresses, SPIRANTHES PORRIFOLIA, standing about ten inches tall. It was easy to identify as a Spiranthes because the tiny flowers spiral around the very slender flower spike.

It turns out that this orchid may not be as common as I figured. In Washington State it's listed as "sensitive," just below "threatened." A Washington State publication says that there are fewer than 500 plants total at all the known sites. About half a dozen live along the gravel road right above my trailer.

California's Jepson Manual lists only two Spiranthes species for that state while Weakley's Flora of the Carolinas lists sixteen for its area. Spiranthes porrifolia is native to the US's five most western contiguous states.