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Shining Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes lucida)

Life history

Species overview

Shining Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes lucida), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in saturated, calcareous, and usually gravelly or sandy soils. Typical habitats include stream and river banks or floodplain terraces, fens, and old quarries or gravel pits. Blooming occurs from late May through early July. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early July.

Synonyms: Ibidium plantagineum


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Sepals fused for 0.6 to 0.8 mm at the base; viscidium (sticky portion of stigma lobe) oval; lip largely bright yellow.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers widely spreading; sepals 5 to 5.5 mm, basally fused for 0.6 to 0.8 mm, directed forward along with lateral petals; lip 5 to 6 mm, broadly oblong, rounded-square edges with irregular teeth along the distal margin, distal two-thirds bright yellow or orange-yellow with white margins.
  • Fruit characteristics: Seed coat net-veined.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal leaves lance-oblong, to 12 cm long and 7 to 15 mm wide; cauline sheaths 2 to 3, much reduced, the upper scale-like.


  • Blooming phenology: late May through early July
  • Fruiting phenology:
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early July


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Carex stricta, Lysimachia ciliata, Asclepias incarnata, Anemone canadensis, Salix exigua.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Shining Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes lucida). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Spiranthes lucida in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in saturated, calcareous, and usually gravelly or sandy soils. Typical habitats include stream and river banks or floodplain terraces, fens, and old quarries or gravel pits.
  • Soils: Wet or damp, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Shining Lady's-tresses. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Floodplain Forest 3
Northern Sedge Meadow 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Shining Lady's-tresses. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal 2

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.


Shining Lady's-tresses Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Shining Lady's-tresses Photo.

The orchid, shining lady's-tresses (Spiranthes lucida), was a recent discovery in Wisconsin.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Shining Lady's-tresses Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition