Family, Orchis. Color, mainly white, but the lip is green, margined with white. Sepals, rather longer than the spreading, wavy, and crisp-margined lip. Flowers, small, in slender, twisted spikes, fragrant. Stem, simple, from 8 to 20 inches tall, smooth, with bracts below and among the flowers, from a cluster of long, tuberous roots. Leaves near the base of the simple stem, short-petioled, ovate to lance-shaped, generally perishing before the flowers appear. July to September.
Dry ground or on hillsides. Nova Scotia to Florida and westward.
S. Beckii. - This species, smaller than the last, has a smooth and very slender low stem, from 5 to 9 inches tall, and a few small flowers in a terminal short spike. Leaves, from the base of the stem, ovate, narrowed into a short petiole, perishing before or at the time of flowering. Root, a single, long, and narrow tuber. August and September.
Slender ladies' tresses (Spiranthes cernua)
S. praecox. - An earlier blossoming species (July and August). Possibly a little taller than the last, with long, persistent, grasslike root leaves, and bracts surrounding the stem above. The white flowers, often with green veining, not fragrant, stand out horizontally and twist around the stem. Racemes apt to be one-sided, 10 to 30 inches high.
Spring, in the south; summer, as far north as New Jersey. Near the coast.