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Great Plains Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum)

Life history

Species overview

Great Plains Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in moist, open prairies. Blooming occurs from September through October. The optimal identification period for this species is September through October.

Synonyms: Spiranthes cernua


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Most likely to be confused with Nodding Lady's'-tresses (Spiranthes cernua), which prefers more acidic soils and does not lose its basal leaves when flowering.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers on tight, spiral racemes of 3 to 4 stalks up to 5 cm wide. Flowers are white and 6-parted, the lip smooth, 1 cm long and with a yellowish center.
  • Fruit characteristics:
  • Leaf characteristics: Two to three basal leaves 1 cm wide and up to 14 cm long that wither when the plant is in bloom, and three to 4 scale-like cauline leaves with often overlapping blades.


  • Blooming phenology: September through October
  • Fruiting phenology:
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is September through October


  • Growth form: Forb/herb
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments:

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 Great Plains Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum). 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 magnicamporum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG3G4
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 moist, open prairies.
  • Soils: dry to wet less acidic soil

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Great Plains 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
Calcareous Fen 1
Wet-mesic Prairie 2
Dry Prairie 3
Mesic Prairie 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Great Plains 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.

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.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

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

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Great Plains Lady's-tresses Photo.

Photo © Aaron Carlson.

Great Plains Lady's-tresses Photo.

Photo © Chris Noll.

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