Spiranthes australis

Distribution Map
Family: Orchidaceae
Distribution: Widespread in marshy areas of the east coast from central eastern Queensland to South Australia.
Common Name: Austral ladies' tresses.
Derivation of Name: Spiranthes... From Greek speira, a coil and anthos, a flower (ie. twisted flower head)
australis... southern, referring to the distribution of the species.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Spiranthes is a genus of terrestrial orchids of around 300 species spread throughout the world. Spiranthes australis was previously known as Spiranthes sinensis var. australis. It is a terrestrial herb comprising 3 to 10 narrow leaves up to 100 mm long. The small, tubular-shaped flowers are bright pink with a white labellum and occur in a long spike which has a twisted form. Flowering occurs in summer and autumn after which the plants become dormant and die back to an underground tuber.

Spiranthes australis
Spiranthes australis
Photo: Jill Dark

Spiranthes australis is a relatively easily grown species, so much so that plants occasionally occur as weeds in greenhouses. Generally the plants are grown in pots in a freely draining, sandy mix. They require good air circulation in a protected position of about 50% sun during the active growing period after flowering.

For further information on terrestrial orchid cultivation see Australia's Native Orchids by Les Nesbitt and the guide produced by the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS).

Propagation of orchids requires specialised methods and is rarely attempted by the casual grower. The following references provide further information on growing terrestrial orchids from seed.

  • Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; D K McIntyre, G J Veitch and J W Wrigley
  • A New Medium for Raising Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; G J Veitch and D K McIntyre

Both articles appear in Australian Plants, journal of the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia), March 1973.


◄◄ Photo Gallery Index    ◄ Photo Gallery Thumbnails    Top ▲