Mountain-Prairie Region

Photos by Lucy Jordan

Species Description:  Ute-ladies'-tresses orchid (Spiranthes diluvialis)is a perennial, terrestrial orchid with stems 20 to 50 centimeters (8 to 20 inches) tall, arising from tuberously thickened roots.  Its narrow (1.0 cm / 0.39 in) leaves can reach 28 cm (11 in) long.  Basal leaves are the longest and become reduced in size up the stem.  The flowering stalk consists of few to many small white or ivory flowers clustered into a spike arrangement at the top of the stem.  The species is characterized by whitish, stout, ringent (gaping at the mouth) flowers.  It blooms, generally, from late July through August.

Location:  Populations of Ute ladies'-tresses orchids are known from three broad general areas of the interior western United States -- near the base of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in southeastern Wyoming and adjacent Nebraska and north-central and central Colorado; in the upper Colorado River basin, particularly in the Uinta Basin; and in the Bonneville Basin along the Wasatch Front and westward in the eastern Great Basin, in north-central and western Utah, extreme eastern Nevada, and southeastern Idaho.  The orchid also has been discovered in southwestern Montana and in the Okanogan area and along the Columbia River in north-central Washington.

2008 Block Clearence Map

The orchid occurs along riparian edges, gravel bars, old oxbows, high flow channels, and moist to wet meadows along perennial streams.  It typically occurs in stable wetland and seepy areas associated with old landscape features within historical floodplains of major rivers.  It also is found in wetland and seepy areas near freshwater lakes or springs.

Actions:  In 2004, the Service contracted for a comprehensive status review of this species. A draft of this report became available in February 2005. A final draft of the status review was completed in October 2005.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that a petition to remove the Ute ladies’-tresses orchid from Federal protection under the Endangered Species Act provides substantial biological information to indicate that removal may be warranted.  

On January 17, 1992, the Ute ladies'-tresses orchid was designated as Threatened in its Entire Range.  Within the area covered by this listing, this species is known to occur in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

More information can be found through the Service's ECOS webpage

Last updated: May 7, 2010