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Description of Spiranthes

Found on 5 continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America), Spiranthes is one of the most widely distributed genera of orchids on Earth. This genus has a long and confused taxonomic history; nearly every species in the subtribe Spiranthinae were at one time included under this genus. Today, approx. 34 species are recognized. Spiranthes is one of the few orchid genera to be most diverse in North America, with its center of diversity in the Southeastern United States.

Spiranthes are terrestrial deciduous herbs. Leaves are glabrous and are mainly arranged in a basal rosette. Flowers are resupinate and arranged in a loose to tight spiral on the inflorescence. Flowers are predominantly white with green or yellow lips, though one species is bright pink. The base of the lip has two prominent, sometimes curved, callosities. The lips of some species are prominently reflexed.


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© Matthew Pace

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