Spiranthes, commonly called Ladies'-tresses, is a group of orchids with flowers, usually white, that form a spiral around a slender stem. The many species are found throughout North and South America and, in northern Florida, some are in bloom almost constantly.

Right now, Spiranthes vernalis or spring ladies’-tress is common on the roadsides. This slender and delicate plant blooms late March through June but peaks in May.

Spiranthes are perennial terrestrial orchids, meaning they grow in soil and return from rootstock rather than seed. The name Spiranthes is derived from the ancient Greek words for twisted flower.

Traditionally it was used as a tonic for headaches and as an aphrodisiac. It is still given as a headache remedy in homeopathic medicine.

Spiranthes cernua or nodding ladies’-tress is a wonderful ornamental plant for temperate gardens and is one of the more popular hardy orchids for sale. It is hardy throughout the South and prefers moist, rich, well-drained soil. Nodding ladies’-tress is produced commercially as a cut flower.

To learn more about these and some of the other native orchids found in Florida, visit http://www.flnativeorchids.com