Plants 20-95(-100+) cm. Roots numerous, spreading, mostly to 1 cm diam., slender. Leaves persisting through anthesis, to 5, basal, reduced to sheathing bracts upward on stem, spreading, linear-lanceolate, keeled, 5-40 × 1.7 cm, rigid. Inflorescences: spikes loosely to tightly spiraled, 5-9 flowers per cycle of spiral, sometimes nearly secund; rachis moderately to densely pubescent, some trichomes capitate, glands obviously stalked. Flowers mostly ascending, white to cream, slenderly tubular, gaping toward apex; sepals distinct to base, lanceolate, tapering in distal 1/3, 6-10 × 2-3 mm; lateral sepals spreading; petals linear, falcate, 7-9 × 2 mm, apex apiculate or sometimes crenulate; lip yellow centrally, ovate, 6-9 × 4 mm, apical margin laciniate-dentate, crisped; basal calli incurved, long-tapered, to 1 mm; viscidium linear-lanceolate; ovary mostly 5 mm. Seeds monoembryonic. Flowering May (Fla.)--Sep (north). Primarily on coastal plain in swamps, marshes, meadows, dry to damp roadsides, ditches, fields, cemeteries, lawns; occasionally in standing water; 0--50 m; Ala., Del., Fla., Ga., La., Md., Miss., N.J., N.C., S.C., Tex., Va. Spiranthes laciniata is easily distinguished from S. vernalis, which it superficially resembles, by its capitate trichomes. It typically flowers later than S. vernalis where the two are sympatric.
Plants 2-10 dm; basal lvs narrow, to 30 cm, 3-10(-15) mm wide; cauline sheaths 4-6, the lower with well developed blade; infl 5-16 cm, its axis minutely glandular-hairy, the fls closely spaced in a single straight row or an evident spiral, spreading, urceolate-cylindric, 6-10 mm, mainly white; lip recurved-deflexed, with a yellow center, rather shallowly lacerate-fringed around the end, papillate on the lower surface, its basal callosities 0.7-1.5 mm, higher than thick. Open wet places on the coastal plain from N.J. to Fla. and Tex. July-Sept.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.