Friday Flower: Yes, it’s an orchid…

Photo details: Canon 100mm macro lens on Canon EOS 50D (manual mode), 36 mm extension, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/16, MT-24EX flash @ 1/8 power w/ Sto-Fen diffusers.

…but what kind? Identifying the genus should be relatively easy, but I suspect a species identification will be more of a challenge.  I’ll provide a little information and even a couple of literature sources that might be useful for achieving a specific determination.

  • Date of photograph: October 5, 2009.
  • Location: White River Balds Natural Area, Taney County, Missouri.
  • Habitat: Dolomitic limestone glade.

Answer and more photos will be posted shortly, so give it your best shot. Think big!


Luer, C. A.  1975.  The Native Orchids of the United States and Canada Excluding Florida.  The New York Botanical Garden, 361 pp. + 96 color plates.

Summers, B.  1981.  Missouri Orchids.  Missouri Department of Conservation, Natural History Series No. 1, 92 pp.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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7 Responses to Friday Flower: Yes, it’s an orchid…

  1. Prem says:

    Most undoubtedly either a Spiranthes cernua or S. odorata (some author consider these synonymous or the latter as a subspecies of the former).


  2. Ellen says:

    Hm…looks suspiciously like a Lady’s Tresses orchid to me. Spiranthes. Our late season Spiranthes is species cernua.

  3. I would have said Spiranthes magnicamporum because the lateral petals seem to be spreading and arching, and your hint of “think big” seems to lead in this direction as well. I don’t know its habitat requirements in Missouri, but I would think it would grow in dolomite glades. I wouldn’t be able to rule out Spiranthes cernua from the photo, however. Mike Homoya, author of Orchids of Indiana, says that there are races of Spiranthes cernua that look morphologically just like Spiranthes magnicamporum, and that you need seeds to distinguish between the two. Spiranthes magnicamporum has monoembryonic seeds and S. cernua has polyembryonic seeds, apparently.

  4. DougT says:

    I agree with Scott Namestnik. The habitat seems right, and the date eliminates all of the summer blooming speices. S. magnicamporum is known from dolomitic areas here in IL, and blooms a bit later than S. cernua.

  5. Mike Quinn says:

    Spiranthes (of course), but what’s the location? I don’t know the MO flora… Mike

  6. Sally says:

    That makes me feel better– had I dared guess (knowing few orchids here in Colorado), I would have said Spiranthes… lucky shot, though.

    But I prefer to compliment you on the excellent corolla texture this photo captures! Very nice…

  7. Hi all – thanks for playing. The flower is, of course, in the genus Spiranthes, and congratulations to Scott and Doug for correctly identifying it as S. magnicamporum. A write-up about this species and more photographs are now posted at Great Plains Ladies’-tresses.


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