Epipactis spiralis (L.) Crantz
Gyrostachys autumnalis (Balb.) Dumort.
Gyrostachys spiralis (L.) Kuntze
Ibidium spirale (L.) Salisb.
Neottia autumnalis (Balb.) Steud.
Neottia spiralis (L.) Sw.
Ophrys autumnalis Balb.
Ophrys spiralis L.
Serapias spiralis (L.) Scop.
Spiranthes autumnalis (Balb.) Rich.
Spiranthes glauca Raf.
Tussaca autumnalis (Balb.) Desv.
Common Name: Autumn Lady's Tresses
Spiranthes spiralis is a perennial plant that can grow up to 20cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine..
Eurasia - Britain and Denmark to Portugal, east to Ukraine, Caucasus and Iran, also western Himalayas; N. Africa - Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia
Hilly pastures, downs, moist meadows and grassy coastal dunes, usually on a calcareous substratum[
]. Dry hilly fields[
See the plants native habitat for ideas on its cultivation needs[
Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid[
This species is one of the commonest orchids in Britain, though it is often overlooked because it flowers so late. It sometimes naturalizes in lawns, especially where these overly a chalk substrate or a turf from chalky land has been used to make the lawn[
In the evening the flowers diffuse a penetrating almond-like perfume like heliotrope[
The tuberous root has been used as an aphrodisiac[
A tincture of the root is used as a homeopathic remedy[
]. It is used in the treatment of skin affections, painful breasts, pain in the kidneys and eye complaints[
Seed - surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil[
]. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move.
Division in autumn. Make sure that you keep plenty of soil with each plant. It is also said to be possible to transplant orchids after they have flowered but whilst they are still in leaf.