Subtribe Spiranthinae

  • Charles L. Argue


Breeding systems in Spiranthes are diverse. Taxa or populations within taxa can produce seed sexually or asexually or by a combination of sexual and asexual means. Mechanisms include insect pollination, autogamy, and agamospermy. A partial correlation is evident between ploidy level, mode of reproduction, and seed type. The primary pollinators of most sexual or facultatively sexual plants are medium sized to comparatively large, long-tongued bees. Smaller halictine bees are adapted to the pollination of S. lucida. Protandry, acropetaly, and pollinator foraging habits favor cross-pollination over geitonogamy in young flowers. Available data on the pollination of Dichromanthus, Deiregyne, Schiedeella, and Microthelys are discussed.


Spiranthes Dichromanthus Deiregyne Schiedeella Microthelys Protandry and acropetaly Sexual and asexual species Polyembryonic seed Long- to short-tongued bees and hummingbirds 


  1. Ackerman JD (1975) Reproductive biology of Goodyera oblongifolia (Orchidaceae). Madrono 23:191–198Google Scholar
  2. Ackerman JD (1981) Pollination biology of Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis (Orchidaceae): a food-deception system. Madrono 28:101–110Google Scholar
  3. Ames O (1921) Notes on New England orchids. I. Spiranthes. Rhodora 23:3–85Google Scholar
  4. Anderson RC, Schelfhout S (1980) Phenological patterns among tallgrass prairie plants and their implications for pollinator competition. Am Midl Nat 104:253–263Google Scholar
  5. Antlfinger AE (1991) Temporal patterns of reproduction and above ground growth in the terrestrial orchid, Spiranthes cernua. Am J Bot (Suppl.)78:47 (abstract)Google Scholar
  6. Antlfinger AE, Wendel LF (1997) Reproductive effort and floral photosynthesis in Spiranthes cernua (Orchidaceae). Am J Bot 84:769–780PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Antonovics J (1968) Evolution in closely adjacent plant populations. V. Evolution and self-fertility. Heredity 23:219–238Google Scholar
  8. Arft AM, Ranker TA (1998) Allopolyploid origin and population genetics of the rare orchid Spiranthes diluvialis. Am J Bot 85:110–122PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Asker S (1979) Progress in apomixis research. Hereditas 91:231–240Google Scholar
  10. Baker HG (1955) Self-compatibility and establishment long after ‘long distance’ dispersal. Evolution 9:347–349Google Scholar
  11. Balogh P, Greenwood EW (1982) Cutsis Balogh, Greenwood, and Gonzalez, a new genus from Mexico. Phytologia 51:297–298Google Scholar
  12. Bayer RJ, Stebbins GL (1980) Geographic distribution of chromosome numbers, sex ratios, and apomictic reproduction in the Antennaria of the eastern United States. In: Second international congress of systematic and evolutionary biology, University of British Columbia, No. 413 (abstract)Google Scholar
  13. Bjork CR, McIntosh T, Hall R (2008) Noteworthy collections: British Columbia. Madrono 54:366–367Google Scholar
  14. Brink RA, Cooper DC (1939) Somatoplastic sterility in Medicago sativa. Science 90:545PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Brink RA, Cooper DC (1947) The endosperm in seed development. Bot Rev 13:423–477Google Scholar
  16. Brown PM (1998) Checklist of the orchids of North America north of Mexico. N Am Nat Orchid J 4(1):61–99Google Scholar
  17. Brown PM (2002a) Dichromanthus. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed) Flora of North America North of Mexico, vol 26. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 524–525Google Scholar
  18. Brown PM (2002b) Schiedeella. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed) Flora of North America North of Mexico, vol 26. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 530Google Scholar
  19. Brown PM (2002c) Deiregyne. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed) Flora of North America North of Mexico, vol 26. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 499–523Google Scholar
  20. Brown PM, Dueck LA, Cameron KM (2008) Spiranthes stellata (Orchidaceae), a new species of ladies’-tresses from the western United States. N Am Nat Orchid J 14:3–21Google Scholar
  21. Calvo RN (1993) Evolutionary demography of orchids-Intensity and frequency of pollination and the cost of fruiting. Ecology 74:1033–1042Google Scholar
  22. Catling PM (1979) Breeding systems of northeastern Spiranthes spp. Can Bot Assoc Bull 12:37 (abstract)Google Scholar
  23. Catling PM (1980a) Autogamy in northeastern North American orchids. Publication of Abstracts, Canadian Botanical Association 1980, Botanical Society of America, Miscellaneous Series Publication, No. 158, p. 20 (abstract)Google Scholar
  24. Catling PM (1980b) Systematics of Spiranthes L. C. Richard in northeastern North America. Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  25. Catling PM (1981) Taxonomy of autumn flowering Spiranthes species of southern Nova Scotia. Can J Bot 59:1253–1270Google Scholar
  26. Catling PM (1982) Breeding systems of northeastern North American Spiranthes (Orchidaceae). Can J Bot 60:3017–3039Google Scholar
  27. Catling PM (1983a) Autogamy in eastern Canadian Orchidaceae: a review of current knowledge and some new observations. Naturaliste Canadien 110:37–54Google Scholar
  28. Catling PM (1983b) Spiranthes ovalis var. erostellata (Orchidaceae), a new autogamous variety from the eastern United States. Brittonia 35:120–125Google Scholar
  29. Catling PM (1983c) Pollination of northeastern North American Spiranthes (Orchidaceae). Can J Bot 61:1080–1093Google Scholar
  30. Catling PM (1990) Biology of North American representatives of the subfamily Spiranthoideae. In: Sawyers C (ed) North American native orchid propagation and production. Brandywine Conservancy/Mt. Cuba Center/New England Wildflower Society, Chadds Ford, PA, pp 49–67Google Scholar
  31. Catling PM, Brown JR (1983) Morphometrics and ecological isolation in sympatric Spiranthes (Orchidaceae) in southwestern Ontario. Can J Bot 61:2747–2759Google Scholar
  32. Catling PM, Brown JR (2002) Stenorrhynchos. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed) Flora of North America North of Mexico, vol 26. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 545Google Scholar
  33. Catling PM, Catling VR (1991) A synopsis of breeding systems and pollination in North American orchids. Lindlyana 6:187–210Google Scholar
  34. Catling PM, Cruise JE (1974) Spiranthes casei, a new species from northeastern North America. Rhodora 76:526–536Google Scholar
  35. Catling PM, McIntosh KL (1979) Rediscovery of Spiranthes parksii Correll. Sida 8:188–193Google Scholar
  36. Catling PM, Sheviak CJ (1993) Taxonomic notes on some North American orchids. Lindleyana 8:77–81Google Scholar
  37. Charlesworth B, Charlesworth D (1979) A model for the evolution of dioecy and gynodioecy. Am Nat 112:975–997Google Scholar
  38. Clausen J (1954) Partial apomixis as an equilibrium system in evolution. Caryologia 6(Suppl):469–479Google Scholar
  39. Coleman E (1933) Further notes on the pollination of Spiranthes sinensis. Victoria Nat 50:61–64Google Scholar
  40. Coleman RA (2005) Population studies in Dichromanthus and Hexalectris in southeastern Arizona. Selbyana 26:246–250Google Scholar
  41. Coleman RA (2009) A yellow form of Dichromanthus michuacanus (Llave and Lex.) Salazar and SotoArehas in Arizona. Native Orchid Conf J 6:17–20Google Scholar
  42. Coleman RA, Baker M (2006) Microthelys rubocallosa (Robins. And Greenm.) Garay (Orchidaceae): a new orchid for the United States. Native Orchid Conf J 3:18–20Google Scholar
  43. Coleman RA, Sirotnak J, Leavitt A (2006) The hunt for Deiregyne confusa. Native Orchid Conf J 3:7–13Google Scholar
  44. Corbet SA, Cuthill I, Fallows M, Harrison T, Hartley G (1981) Why do nectar foraging bees and wasps work upwards in inflorescences? Oecologia 51:79–83Google Scholar
  45. Correll DS (1978) Native orchids of North America North of Mexico. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar
  46. Darwin C (1862) On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilized by insects. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. DeWet JMJ, Stalker HT (1974) Gametophytic apomixis and evolution in plants. Taxon 23:689–697Google Scholar
  48. Dressler RL (1993) Phylogeny and classification of the orchid family. Dioscorides, Portland, ORGoogle Scholar
  49. Dueck LA (2008) The Spiranthes formerly known as parksii. N Am Nat Orchid J 14:143–199Google Scholar
  50. Dueck LA, Cameron KM (2008) Molecular evidence on the species status and phylogenetic relationships of Spiranthes parksii, an endangered orchid from Texas. Conserv Genet 9:1617–1631Google Scholar
  51. Duffy KJ, Stout JC (2008) The effects of plant diversity and nectar reward on bee visitation to the endangered orchid Spiranthes romanzoffiana. Acta Oecol 34:131–138Google Scholar
  52. Fernald ML (1921) The Gray herbarium expedition to Nova Scotia. Rhodora 23:89–111, 130–152, 153–171, 184–195, 223–246, 257–258, 284–300Google Scholar
  53. Frankel R, Galun E (1977) Pollination mechanisms, reproduction, and plant breeding. Monographs on theoretical and applied genetics, 2. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Fritzgerald RD (1876) Australian orchids, vol 1, part 2. Government Printer, SidneyGoogle Scholar
  55. Garay LA (1982) A generic revision of the Spiranthinae. Bot Mus Leafl Harv Univ 28:278–379Google Scholar
  56. Godfery MJ (1922) Spiranthes romanzoffiana. Orchid Rev 30:261–264Google Scholar
  57. Godfery MJ (1931) The pollination of Coeloglossum, Nigritella, Serapias, etc. J Bot 69:129–130Google Scholar
  58. Godfery MJ (1933) Monograph and iconograph of native British Orchidaceae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  59. Gray A (1862a) Enumeration of the plants of Dr. Parry’s collection in the Rocky Mountains. Am J Sci Ser 2, 34:249–261Google Scholar
  60. Gray A (1862b) Fertilization of orchids through the agency of insects. Am J Sci Ser 2 34: 420–429Google Scholar
  61. Hagerup O (1952) Bud autogamy in some northern orchids. Phytomorphology 2:51–60Google Scholar
  62. Hapeman JR (1996) Orchids of Wisconsin. An interactive flora. Available at,html
  63. Heinrich B (1976) The foraging specializations of individual bumblebees. Ecol Monogr 46:105–128Google Scholar
  64. Heinrich B (1979a) Bumblebee economics. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  65. Heinrich B (1979b) Resource heterogeneity and patterns of movement by foraging bumblebees. Oecologia 40:235–245Google Scholar
  66. Heinrich B, Waddington KD (1979) The foraging movements of bumblebees on vertical inflorescences: an experimental analysis. J Comp Physiol 134:113–117Google Scholar
  67. Hodges CM, Miller RB (1981) Pollinator flight directionality and the assessment of pollen returns. Oecologia 50:376–379Google Scholar
  68. Hu S-y (1977) The Genera of Orchidaceae in Hong Kong. The Chinese University Press, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  69. Ives JD, Andrews JT, Barry RG (1975) Growth and decay of the Laurentide ice sheet and comparisons with Fenno-Scandinavia. Naturwissenschaften 62:118–125Google Scholar
  70. Jain SK (1976) The evolution of inbreeding in plants. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 7:469–495Google Scholar
  71. Jersakova J, Johnson SD (2007) Protandry promotes male pollination success in a moth-pollinated orchid. Funct Ecol 21:496–504Google Scholar
  72. Johnson GP (2006) Exclusion of Spiranthes magnicamporum for Arkansas: three strikes and your out. Nat Orchid Conf J 3:1–5Google Scholar
  73. Johnson SD, Edwards T (2000) The structure and function of orchid pollinaria. Plant Syst Evol 222:243–269Google Scholar
  74. Kallunki JA (1981) Reproductive biology of mixed-species populations of Goodyera (Orchidaceae) in northern Michigan. Brittonia 33:137–155Google Scholar
  75. Kaul RB, Rolfsmeier SB (1987) The characteristics and phytogeographic affinities of the flora of Nine-Mile Prairie, a western tall-grass prairie in Nebraska. Trans Nebraska Acad Sci 15:23–35Google Scholar
  76. Klinkhamer PGL, De Jong TJ (1990) Effects of plant size, plant density and sex differential nectar reward on pollinator visitation in the protandrous Echium vulgare. Oikos 57:399–405Google Scholar
  77. Kipping JL (1971) Pollination studies of native orchids. MS Thesis, San Francisco State College, San Francisco, CA, USAGoogle Scholar
  78. Knox RB (1967) Apomixis: seasonal and population differences in a grass. Science 157:325–326PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Lakshmanan KK, Ambegaokar KB (1984) Polyembryony. In: Johri M (ed) Embryology of ­angiosperms. Springer, New York, pp 445–474Google Scholar
  80. Larson RJ, Larson KS (1987) Observations on the pollination biology of Spiranthes romanzoffiana. Lindleyana 2:176–179Google Scholar
  81. Larson KS, Larson RJ (1990) Lure of the locks: Showiest ladies-tresses orchids, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, affect bumblebee, Bombus spp., foraging behavior. Can Field Nat 104:519–525Google Scholar
  82. Leavitt RG (1900) Polyembryony in Spiranthes cernua. Rhodora 2:227–228Google Scholar
  83. Leavitt RG (1901) Notes on the embryology of some New England orchids. Rhodora 3(61–63):202–205Google Scholar
  84. Levin DA (1971) The origin of reproductive isolating mechanisms in flowering plants. Taxon 20:91–113Google Scholar
  85. Light HMS (1998) Promise of reward-scent, nectar and pollen. Orchid Rev 106:330–336Google Scholar
  86. Lloyd DG (1980) Demographic factors and mating in angiosperms. In: Solbrig OT (ed) Demography and evolution in plant populations. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, pp 67–88Google Scholar
  87. Lloyd DG (1988) Benefits and costs of biparental and uniparental reproduction in plants. In: Michod RE, Levin BR (eds) The evolution of sex. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, pp 233–252Google Scholar
  88. Luer CA (1975) The native orchids of the United States and Canada excluding Florida. The New York Botanical Garden, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  89. Maheshwari P (1952) Polyenbryony in angiosperms. Paleo-botanist (Lucknow) 1:319–329Google Scholar
  90. Manning JT (1981) The “survivor effect” and the evolution of parthenogenesis and self-fertilization. J Theor Biol 93:491–493Google Scholar
  91. Marshall DR, Brown ADH (1981) The evolution of apomixis. Heredity 47:1–15Google Scholar
  92. Marshall DR, Weir BS (1979) Maintenance of genetic variation in apomictic plant populations. Heredity 42:159–172Google Scholar
  93. McClaran MP, Sundt PC (1992) Population dynamics of the rare orchid, Spiranthes delitescens. Southwest Nat 37:299–333Google Scholar
  94. Nogler GA (1984) Gametophyte apomixes. In: Johri BM (ed) Embryology of angiosperms. Springer, New York, pp 474–518Google Scholar
  95. Nygren A (1966) Apomixis in the angiosperms with special reference to Calamagrostis and Poa. In: Hawkes JG (ed) Reproductive biology and taxonomy of vascular plants. Pergamon, London, pp 131–140Google Scholar
  96. Ornduff R (1969) Reproductive biology in relation to systematics. Taxon 18:121–124Google Scholar
  97. Prest VK (1970) Quarternary geology in Canada. In: Douglas RJW (ed) Geology and economic minerals of Canada, vol 1. Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, pp 676–764Google Scholar
  98. Pridgeon AM, Cribb PM, Chase MW, Rasmussen FN (2003) Genera Orchidaceum, vol 3. Orchidoideae (part 2), Vanilloideae. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  99. Primack RB, Hall P (1990) Costs of reproduction in the pink lady’s slipper orchid: a four-year experimental study. Am Nat 136:638–656Google Scholar
  100. Primack RB, Miao SL, Becker KR (1994) Costs of reproduction in the pink lady’s-slipper orchid (Cypripedium acaule): defoliation, increased fruit production, and fire. Am J Bot 81: 1083–1090Google Scholar
  101. Pyke GH (1978) Optimal foraging: movement patterns of bumblebees between inflorescences. Theor Popul Biol 13:72–98PubMedGoogle Scholar
  102. Rathcke B (1983) Competition and facilitation among plants for pollination. In: Real L (ed) Pollination biology. Academic, New York, pp 305–329Google Scholar
  103. Ridley HN (1888) Notes on self-fertilization and cleistogamy in orchids. J Linn Soc Bot 24:389–395Google Scholar
  104. Robertson C (1893) Flowers and insects. Bot Gazette 18:47–54Google Scholar
  105. Robertson C (1929) Flowers and insects. Science, Carlinville, ILGoogle Scholar
  106. Roland AE, Smith EC (1962–1969) The flora of Nova Scotia, Parts 1–4. Proc Nova Scotia Inst Sci 26:1–745Google Scholar
  107. Schmid-Hempel P, Speiser B (1988) Effects of inflorescence size on pollination in Epilobium angustifolium. Oikos 53:98–104Google Scholar
  108. Schmidt JM (1987) Reproduction and Life History Characteristics of a North American Prairie Orchid Spiranthes cernua (Linneaus) L. C. Richard. M.A. thesis, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, USAGoogle Scholar
  109. Schmidt JM, Antlfinger AE (1992) The levels of agamospermy in a Nebraska population of Spiranthes cernua (Orchidaceae). Am J Bot 79:501–507Google Scholar
  110. Schnarf K (1929) Embryologie der Angiospermum. Borntraeger, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  111. Sheviak CJ (1973) A new Spiranthes from the grasslands of central North America. Bot Mus Leafl Harv Univ 23:285–297Google Scholar
  112. Sheviak CJ (1974) An introduction to the ecology of the Illinois orchidaceae. Illinois State Museum Scientific Papers XIV, Springfield, IllinoisGoogle Scholar
  113. Sheviak CJ (1976) Biosystematic Study of the Spiranthes cernua Complex with Emphasis on the Prairies. Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  114. Sheviak CJ (1982) Biosystematic study of Spiranthes cernua complex. Bulletin No. 448. New York State Museum, Albany, NYGoogle Scholar
  115. Sheviak CJ (1984) Spiranthes diluvialis (Orchidaceae), a new species from the western United States. Brittonia 36:8–14Google Scholar
  116. Sheviak CJ (1989) A new Spiranthes (Orchidaceae) from Ash Meadows, Nevada, USA. Rhodora 91:225–234Google Scholar
  117. Sheviak CJ, Brown PM (2002) Spiranthes. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed) Flora of North America North of Mexico, vol 26. University of Oxford Press, New York, pp 530–544Google Scholar
  118. Sheviak CJ, Catling PM (1980) The identity and status of S. ochroleuca (Rydberg) Rydberg. Rhodora 82:525–562Google Scholar
  119. Simpson RC, Catling PM (1978) Spiranthes lacera var. lacera X romanzoffiana, a new natural hybrid orchid from Ontario. Can Field Nat 92:350–358Google Scholar
  120. Sipes SD (1995) Reproduction of the rare, riparian orchid Spiranthes diluvialis: pollination ecology, variations in reproductive success, and implications for conservation. Masters thesis, Utah State University, Logan, UTGoogle Scholar
  121. Sipes SD, Tepedino VJ (1995) Reproductive biology of the rare orchid, Spiranthes diluvialis: breeding system, pollination, and implications for conservation. Conserv Biol 9:929–938Google Scholar
  122. Sipes SD, Tepedino VJ, Bowlin WR (1993) The pollination and reproductive ecology of Spiranthes diluvialis Sheviak (Orchidaceae). In: Sivinski R, Lightfoot K (eds) Proceedings of the Southwestern rare and endangered plant conference. Santa Fe, New Mexico, pp 320–333Google Scholar
  123. Snow AA, Whigham DF (1989) Costs of flower and fruit production in Tipularia discolor (Orchidaceae). Ecology 70:1286–1293Google Scholar
  124. Solbrig OT (1976) On the relative advantages of cross- and self-fertilization. Ann MO Bot Gard 63:262–276Google Scholar
  125. Stebbins GL Jr (1941) Apomixis in the angiosperms. Bot Rev 7:507–542Google Scholar
  126. Stevenson JC (1973) Evolutionary strategies and ecology of Goodyera and Spiranthes species (Orchidaceae). Ph.D. thesis, University North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NCGoogle Scholar
  127. Stoutamire WP (1974) Terrestrial orchid seedlings. In: Withner CL (ed) The Orchids scientific studies. Wiley, New York, pp 101–128Google Scholar
  128. Summerhayes VS (1951) Wild orchids of Britain. Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  129. Sun M (1996) The allopolyploid origin of Spiranthes hongkongensis (Orchidaceae). Am J Bot 83:252–260Google Scholar
  130. Swamy BGL (1948) Agamospermy in Spiranthes arnua. Lloydia 11:149–162Google Scholar
  131. Szlachetko DL (1993) Schiedeella romeroana (Orchidaceae, Spiranthinae), a new and interesting species from Mexico. Rhodora 95:1–5Google Scholar
  132. Tamm CO (1972) Survival and flowering of some perennial herbs II. The behavior of some orchids on permanent plots. Oikos 23:23–28Google Scholar
  133. Uphof JCT (1938) Cleistogamic flowers. Bot Rev 4:21–49Google Scholar
  134. Weller SG, Ornduff R (1977) Cryptic self-incompatibility in Amsinckia grandiflora. Evolution 31:47–51Google Scholar
  135. Wells TCE (1967) Changes in a population of Spiranthes spiralis Chevall. at Knocking Hoc National Nature Preserve, Bedfordshire, 1962–65. J Ecol 55:83–99Google Scholar
  136. Wells TCE (1981) Population ecology of terrestrial orchids. In: Synge H (ed) The biolological aspects of rare plant conservation. Wiley, London, pp 281–295Google Scholar
  137. Whigham DF (1984) Biomass and nutrient allocation of Tipularia discolor (Orchidaceae). Oikos 42:303–313Google Scholar
  138. Willems JH, Dorland E (2000) Flowering frequency and plant performance and their relation to age in the perennial orchid Spiranthes spiralis (Linnaeus) Chevall. Plant Biol 2:344–349Google Scholar
  139. Willems JH, Lahtinen ML (1997) Impact of pollination and resource limitation on seed production in a border population of Spiranthes spiralis (Orchidaceae). Acta Bot Neerl 46:365–375Google Scholar
  140. World Checklist of Monocotyledons (2008) The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Accessed Oct 2008
  141. Zimmerman M (1982) Optimal foraging: random movement by pollen collecting bumblebees. Oecologia 53:394–398Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Biological SciencesUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations