Spiranthes odorata
Common Name: common ladies' tresses 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Orchidaceae
Native Range: Eastern Canada to Texas and Florida
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 0.75 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant


Best grown in moist, boggy, acidic soils in part shade. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Spiranthes odorata, commonly called fragrant ladies' tresses, marsh ladies' tresses, or common ladies' tresses, is an orchid that is native to marshes, bogs, swamps and other wet areas in the eastern United States from New Jersey and Tennessee south to Florida and Texas. It features small, very fragrant, hooded, white flowers densely arranged in vertical, slightly spiral-like rows on spikes typically growing 9-18" (less frequently to 24") tall. Blooms in late summer to fall, often to first frost. Lance-shaped, linear leaves in basal rosettes, with some leaves extending up the flower spikes. The spiraling flower arrangement is the result of uneven cell growth, which results in a twisting of the flower stems. Synonymous with and often listed and sold as Spiranthes cerna var. odorata.

Genus name comes from the Greek words speira meaning spiral or twisted object and anthos meaning a flower for the spiral inflorescence.

Specific epithet means fragrant.

The common name ladies' tresses refers to the spiraling growth habit of the flower stalks.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Moist meadows, moist woodland gardens, moist wooded slopes or edges of ponds, streams or water gardens. A classic bog plant.