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Ladies'-tresses in Your Pocket: A Guide to the Native Ladies'-tresses Orchids, Spiranthes, of the United States and Canada
by Paul Martin Brown
University of Iowa Press, 2008
Paper: 978-1-58729-656-7

Native orchids are increasingly threatened by pressure from population growth and development but, nonetheless, still present a welcome surprise to observant hikers in every state and province. Compiled and illustrated by long-time orchid specialist Paul Martin Brown, this pocket guide to ladies’-tresses is the first in a series that will cover all the wild orchids of the United States and Canada.

Brown provides general distributional information, time of flowering, and habitat requirements for each species as well as a complete list of hybrids and the many different growth and color forms that can make identifying orchids so intriguing. He includes information on 256 species, 3 additional varieties, and 7 hybrids.

Wild ladies’-tresses occur from British Columbia, with the hooded ladies’-tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, to Florida, with Eaton’s-ladies’-tresses, S. eatonii. The newest species to science, Spiranthes stellata, the starry ladies’-tresses, is featured. Most of these species are easy to identify based upon their general appearance, range, and time of flowering. Answer three simple questions—when, where, and how does it grow? Then compare the living plant with the striking photos in these backpack-friendly laminated guides and consult the keys that Brown has created. Following these steps should enable both professional and amateur naturalists to achieve the satisfaction of identifying specific orchids in their native environment.

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