The South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society annual holiday potluck is this Sunday, and the program at this event is members' slide shows. I've been going through my photos to put together a quick slide show on Indiana orchids, and I wanted to post a photo of one of my favorite orchids, Spiranthes lucida. This photograph was taken in June 2008 at Springfield Fen in LaPorte County, Indiana.
Spiranthes is from the Greek words "speira" and "anthos," which mean spiral and flower, respectively. A look at the inflorescence makes clear how the genus got its name. Lucida means "shining," a reference to the very shiny leaves of this species. The bright yellow spot on the lip in combination with the early (relative to other Spiranthes) flowering time make this species an easy ID, if you can find it. Spiranthes lucida is known from much of the northern 2/3 of eastern North America, but it is a species of concern in ten states. You can find Shining Lady's Tresses in wet, calcareous areas with little competition, often in areas with some disturbance (such as lake margins and streambanks).