CPC Plant Profile: Canelo Hills Ladies'-tresses
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Plant Profile

Canelo Hills Ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes delitescens)

Spiranthes growing on a medium of agar in a test tube...this is an ex situ method known as tissue culture. Photo Credit: Lynda Pritchett-Kozak
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • State: AZ
  • Nature Serve ID: 138772
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/09/1992

Spiranthes delitescens is a slender, erect terrestrial orchid that can grow up to 50 cm in height. Plants have five to ten slender, grass-like leaves which grow basally on the stem. Roots are fleshy and swollen, about 5 mm in diameter. A twisted spike inflorescence may contain up to 40 white flowers and blooms in July. These orchids are generally short-lived, with an average longevity of 3 to 4 years. During severe drought, plants return to the heterotrophic condition. There is anecdotal evidence that this species may actually require disturbance in order to become established. Since the seeds of orchids are without endosperm (stored nutrients) they need the perfect conditions for germination. Germination of such seeds is challenging, and must be conducted under sterile conditions on an agar media, to eliminate potential contamination and competition with fungal growth. However, because orchid seeds have no endosperm, they need mycorrhizae, soil-inhabiting fungi, to germinate. Mycorrhizae encourage germination by penetrating the orchid's seed coat and bringing water and nutrients to the embryo.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/30/2020
  • Tissue Culture

Seeds have been collected by Desert Botanical Garden in the past and sent to a tissue culture specialist in Cincinnati, Ohio. From thousands of seeds, only seven plants were generated. Eventually all but one plant died, and the remaining plant was severely stunted. It flowered, then died. Although the plant was being grown in soil taken from its native habitat, apparently no fungal mutualism had taken place.

  • 09/30/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seeds have been collected by Desert Botanical Garden in the past and sent to a tissue culture specialist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • 09/30/2020
  • Demographic Research

The Nature Conservancy owns the marsh on which one site is located. Detailed studies of this site are conducted annually, and a full-time caretaker lives on site

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known only from 4 mid-level wetland locations southern Arizona. Cienega habitat is extremely limited in this mostly arid region and other suitable locations in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico have been thoroughly searched without success. Most cienega habitat has been lost, seriously degraded, or is in danger of being destroyed due to growing water demands and associated diversions and impoundments, uncontrolled livestock grazing, the introduction of invasive exotic plant species, sand and gravel mining, and other threats. Many of these ecosystems have not yet recovered from the widespread erosion and channel entrenchment that resulted from poor management practices of over a century ago. Spiranthes delitescens is particularly threatened by the growth of dense vegetation around it (AFGD 2000).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Threats to Spiranthes include grazing, competition with Equisetum (horsetail), sedges, Johnson grass, and possibly fire suppression (Mclaran and Sundt 1992). Plants are nearly impossible to relocate in the vegetative state, as they grow among sedges and t

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

There are only four known populations in Santa Cruz County, AZ. This species may also occur in Mexico (Sheviak 1990).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Seeds have been collected by Desert Botanical Garden in the past and sent to a tissue culture specialist in Cincinnati, Ohio. From thousands of seeds, only seven plants were generated. Eventually all but one plant died, and the remaining plant was severely stunted. It flowered, then died. Although the plant was being grown in soil taken from its native habitat, apparently no fungal mutualism had taken place.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Since three of the four known occurrences in the U.S. are privately owned by ranchers, it is unknown if those populations are receiving any protective consideration. The Nature Conservancy owns the marsh on which one site is located. Detailed studies of this site are conducted annually, and a full-time caretaker lives on site. Neighbors on both sides of this tract have initiated measures that would drain water away from the marsh. Trenches have been dug and pipes laid with the sole purpose of draining away 'excess' water to increase carrying capacity for grazing animals, and ease of access.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Management needs include riparian water guidelines and general habitat protection. Research needs include understanding mutualistic relationships and their impact on reproduction.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Investigation into seed storage requirements, germination requirements, and horticultural information is critical. Additional collection of seed is also necessary.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Spiranthes delitescens
Authority Sheviak
Family Orchidaceae
CPC Number 13510
ITIS 507181
USDA SPDE6
Common Names Canelo Hills ladie's tresses | Madrean ladies tresses | Madrean ladies's tresses | reclusive lady's tresses | delightful ladiestresses | Canelo Hills ladies'-tresses
Associated Scientific Names Spiranthes delitescens
Distribution Of the four known occurrences within Arizona, three are privately owned and grazed (Newman 1990, USFWS 1997). The fourth site is owned by the Nature Conservancy (Sheviak 1990). Short term declines in
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S1
Habitat

The habitat preferred by Spiranthes is a marshy wetland or cienega, intermingled with tall grasses and sedges, at elevations of 5000 ft (USFWS 1995 a & b, 1997).

Ecological Relationships

Members of the Orchid family must form a symbiotic mycorrhizal relationship before nutrients can be absorbed (Luer 1975). The exact nature of these organisms in relation to Spiranthes delitescens must be taken into consideration when planning any ex situ work.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Bumble bees Bombus Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Butterflies & Moths
Moths Confirmed Pollinator Link
Butterflies Confirmed Pollinator Link
Flies
Flies Confirmed Pollinator Link

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