by Stephen Mifsud
   24 Jun 2024      ()
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Spiranthes spiralis   (Autumn Lady's Tresses)

Spiranthes spiralis  (ORCHIDACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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General Information Species Images
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Detailed species profile
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Profile Date Oct-2006 (taxon update: Oct-2006)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Spiranthes spiralis - datasheet created on Oct-2006. Retrieved from on 24-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Spiranthes spiralisChevall.
Published in Fl. Gén. Env. Paris 2: 330 (1827)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Spiranthes autumnalis (Balb.) Rich.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Orchidaceae Juss. (The Orchid Family)
41 species from the Orchidaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Autumn Lady's Tresses

Maltese name(s) :

Ħajja u mejta tal-ħarifa

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE ( bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc. )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Protected by law: Schedule VI of [S.L. 549.44] (strictly protected species)

Red List (1989) :

Threatened status for the Maltese Islands and has been listed in the Red Data Book (1st ed.)

Flowering Time :

October – November

Colour of Flowers:

White or Green


Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Spiranthes: from speira meaning spiral, and anthos for flower, referring to spiral arrangement of the flowers along the flowering spike. (Greek origin )
spiralis: spiral arrangement (referring to the flowers). (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Grassland.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Low garigue, steppes, disturbed rocky ground, preferring exposed and arid areas.
Botanical Description: Roots tuber-like, oblong-ellipsoid. Stem 6-20(-35) cm, glandular-pubescent, bearing 3-7 closely appressed, lanceolate scale-leaves. Foliage-leaves 2-3.5 cm, ovate-elliptical, acute, glabrous, glaucous, in a basal rosette, usually withered at anthesis, but next year's rosette appears during anthesis beside the flowering stem. Spike 3-10 cm, slender, with 6-20 flowers in one spiral row. Bracts 6-7 mm, acuminate. Perianth-segments 6-7 mm, oblong, white, the upper 3 connivent and forming with the labellum a tube enclosing the column, the outer lateral segments patent. Labellum 6-7 mm, with upwardly curved margins and undulate-crenulate apex, yellowish-green. Flowering in autumn or late summer.
Chromosome number: 2n=30
Distributional range: S., W. & C. Europe, extending northwards to E. Denmark.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
All except the Azores, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and former USSR, N B C K E Svalbard archipelago, Sweden
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Ag Al Au Be Bl Br Bu Co Cr Cy Cz Da Ga Ge Gr Hb He Ho Hs Hu It Ju LS Lu Ma Po Rf(CS) Rm Sa Si Tcs Tn Tu(A E) Uk(U)

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (28 images)
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-0.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-1.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-2.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-3.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-4.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-5.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-6.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-7.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-8.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-9.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-10.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-11.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-12.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-13.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-14.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-15.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-16.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-17.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-18.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-19.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-20.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-21.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-22.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-23.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-24.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-25.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-26.
   Spiranthes spiralis   -   Image Code: SPISP-27.

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