Spiranthes spiralis

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaOrchidaceaeSpiranthesSpiranthes spiralis


A rhizomatous herb of unimproved, well-grazed grassland on dry calcareous soils, especially on chalk and limestone, and on cliff-tops and sand dunes; also on lawns and, rarely, on less acidic heathland. It can persist for many years without flowering, appearing in hundreds when grazing or mowing ceases. Lowland.



World Distribution

European Southern-temperate element.

© G. Toone, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Calcareous grassland (includes lowland and montane types)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.9

Annual Precipitation (mm): 884

Life form information

Height (cm): 15

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 655

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 117

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13

Atlas Change Index: -0.95

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references