Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids WebsiteClassification:
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular Plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
Subclass: Liliidae - Subclass containing lily and orchid relatives
Order: Orchidales - Orchid order
Family: Orchidaceae - Orchid Family
Subfamily: Spiranthoideae - Spiranthoids
Tribe: Cranichideae - Cranichids
Subtribe: Spiranthinae - Spiranthines
Synonyms: Limodorum lanceolatum Aubl., Hist. Pl. Guiane 2: 821 (1775). Neottia lanceolata (Aubl.) Willd., Sp. Pl. 4: 73 (1805). Stenorrhynchos lanceolatum (Aubl.) Rich., De Orchid. Eur.: 37 (1817). Gyrostachys lanceolata (Aubl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 664 (1891). Spiranthes lanceolata (Aubl.) León, Contr. Ocas. Mus. Hist. Nat. Colegio 'De Le Salle' 8: 358 (1946). Sacoila paludicola (Luer) P.M.Br., N. Amer. Native Orchid J. 14: 187 (2008).
Summary: Large terrestrial orchids. Leaves form a basal rosette throughout the late spring, summer, and autumn, with thick leaves up to 12 inches (30.5 cm). Leaves fade with the first frost. Flower spikes emerge in early spring to open in summer. Flower spikes to two feet (0.6 meters) tall with flower heads up to six inches (15 cm) tall with one inch (2.5 cm) long, tubular flowers typically a coral-red color (occasionally green or yellow).
Common Name: Scarlet Ladies' Tresses
Habitat: Moist roadsides; open, wet situations.
Flowering season: March through June (peaking in May)
This is one of our most conspicuous species of orchids, made all the more so because it typically favors open, wet to semi-wet situations which are common roadside conditions in Florida.
In spring and early summer, this species bears spectacular racemes of inch-long, tubular flowers which are typically a coral-red color. In the typical variety, var. lanceolata, the leaves are absent at flowering in May-June. In var. paludicola, an inhabitant of swampy areas found in both Sarasota and the Big Cypress Swamp area in Collier County, the leaves are present as it blooms during the April time frame. In addition to these two varieties, several color forms of the typical variety are sometimes found. S. lanceolata var. lanceolata fma. folsomii has reduced reddish coloration, giving it a golden-yellow appearance. By contrast, S. lanceolata var. lanceolata fma. albidaviridis has no coloration, being a pure green color that blends well with the grassy fields it typically calls home.
The leaves themselves, which emerge after flowering can be rather large, forming basal rosettes up to 2 feet (0.6 m) in diameter.
One of the best places to see this species in bloom is along the Florida Turnpike between Orlando and Yeehaw Junction in early-mid May.
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