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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 26 | Orchidaceae | Spiranthes

8. Spiranthes torta (Thunberg) Garay & H. R. Sweet, Fl. Less. Antill. 1: 77. 1974.

Ophrys torta Thunberg, Mus. Nat. Acad. Upsal. 9: 136. 1791; Ibidium tortile (Swartz) House; Spiranthes tortilis (Swartz) Richard

Plants 7–50 cm. Roots few, spreading to descending, slender to somewhat tuberous, mostly to 1 cm diam. Leaves fugacious, 2 or 3, basal, reduced to bracts on stem, ascending, narrowly oblanceolate, 5–20 × 0.5 cm. Spikes secund to loosely spiraled, 8–10 flowers per cycle of spiral; rachis sparsely pubescent, some trichomes capitate, glands obviously stalked. Flowers nodding, white; sepals elliptic, 5 × 1 mm; lateral sepals distinct to base, curving slightly downward, oblique; petals green at base, oblique, elliptic, 5 × 1.5 mm; lip green with white apex, ovate, 4 × 2 mm; veins parallel; basal calli very short, stout, to 0.3 mm; viscidium linear-lanceolate; ovary mostly 3 mm. Seeds monoembryonic.

Flowering May--Jul. Dry pinelands; 0--10 m; Fla.; West Indies (Bahamas); Bermuda; Central America.

Spiranthes torta is restricted to the rocky pinelands in southern Florida and is easily recognized by its nodding flowers and downward-pointing lateral sepals. It could only be confused with S. tuberosa, typically a much shorter plant with pure white flowers.

Spiranthes amesiana Schlechter is often included as a synonym of S. torta; recent studies indicate that it may be a distinct species. It is said to differ from S. torta in its denser inflorescence, spade-shaped lip with a crenulate-ciliate margin, and densely pubescent basal calli. Within the area covered by the flora, it is restricted to extreme southern Florida; it also has been collected in the Bahamas and Nicaragua.


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