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Genus Spiranthes

Genus Spiranthes

Spiranthes L. C. Rich., Orchid. Eur. Annot. (1817) 28


  • Genus Aristotelea Lour., Fl. Cochinch. 2 (1790) 522
  • Genus Gyrostachys Pers. ex Blume, Coll. Orchid. (1858) 127
  • Genus Ibidium Salisb. ex Small, Trans. Hort. Soc. 1 (1812) 291
  • Genus Monustes Raf., Fl. Tellur. 2 (1836) 87
  • Genus Orchiastrum Ség., Man. Bot. San Franc. Bay (1894) 305
  • Genus Triorchis Agosti, Tract. (1770) 234
  • Genus Triorchis Millan, Jac. Pet. Op. (1765) t. 68

Sympodial terrestrial plants. Stem arising from a cluster of very fleshy roots. Leaves few, in a basal rosette, sheathing at the base, glabrous, persistent, convolute, herbaceous. Inflorescence terminal, a many-flowered raceme. Flowers small, arranged in a dense spiral, resupinate, white or pink. Sepals free. Petals free, narrower than the sepals. Lip without spur, not mobile, at the base with two warts. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, mealy, caudicles present, stipe absent, viscidium present.

Species present in New Guinea:

Spiranthes sinensis

North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific islands, east to Samoa. About 30 species; one widespread species [Spiranthes sinensis (Pers.) Ames] in New Guinea.

Terrestrial in montane grassland.

  • Pridgeon, A. M., P.J. Cribb, M.W. Chase & F.N. Rasmussen (Eds.). 2003. Genera Orchidacearum, Volume 3: Orchidoideae (Part 2), Vanilloideae. Pp. 258-266. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Subfamily Orchidoideae
  • Tribe Cranichideae
  • Subtribe Spiranthinae
  • Genus Spiranthes

The small flowers arranged in a dense spiral clearly characterise Spiranthes. Occasionally seen in cultivation, sometimes even as a weed in pots with other orchids.

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Genus Spiranthes

Spiranthes sinensis (Pers.) Ames, inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, from West New Britain Prov.

Genus Spiranthes

Spiranthes papuana Schltr., floral analysis, drawing J.J. Smith, from Gibbs 5673