Ladies'-tresses September 10, 2007
Ladies'-tresses are one of the petite members of the Orchidaceae, or orchid family. There are 9 different species listed for Ohio's flora. Spiranthes means "spiral-flower" and it is the perfect name for the diminutive orchids that twist up the stem to bloom in series.
The Spiranthes magnicamporum, Great Plains Ladies'-tresses is the rarest of all these unusual orchids. The individual flowers' sepals recurve to resemble the "horns" on a cow, but let's say bison- since this is a Great Plains animal :) This feature sets it apart from all the other Spiranthes.
The one pictured was another inhabitant of the driveway-like gravel bed that is home to the Lakeside Daisy. These are unique plants which require this limestone base and are adapted to the scorching sunlight, drying winds and bone-searing lack of moisture during the dog-days of summer.
Unusual prairie plants adept at eking out a living in the limestone flats are hard to come by, and tend to rate very highly on a floristic quality index. Look for them on Kelley's Island, Marblehead and parts of Castalia. All three locations have interesting preserves that are accessible by the public.