*The following is based on Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley & S.W. Woodmansee. 2002. Rare Plants of South Florida: Their History, Conservation, and Restoration. The Institute for Regional Conservation: Miami. For updated species accounts, see Citation below. For the original text, follow the link in the Update field. If no Update field is displayed, then cite as the original publication.

Mesadenus lucayanus (Britton) Schltr.

Florida Keys lady''s-tresses


South Florida Status: Extirpated. Last collected in 1978 on Sewell’s Point.

Taxonomy: Monocotyledon; Orchidaceae.

Habit: Perennial terrestrial herb.

Distribution: Native to peninsular Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America. Wunderlin (1998) reports it as rare in Citrus, Martin, and Miami-Dade counties.

South Florida Distribution: Martin and Miami-Dade counties.

South Florida Habitats: Hammocks.

Protection Status: Listed as endangered by FDACS and as imperiled to critically imperiled by FNAI.

Aids to Identification: Luer (1972) has illustrations and color photos; Chafin (2000) has illustrations and a color photo.

References: Small, 1933a; Correll, 1950; Luer, 1972; Long & Lakela, 1976; Correll & Correll, 1982; Wunderlin, 1998; Chafin, 2000; Coile, 2000; Liogier & Martorell, 2000.

Synonyms: Mesadenus lucayanus (Britton) Schltr.; Mesadenus polyanthus (Rchb. f.) Schltr.; Spiranthes polyantha Rchb. f. misapplied.



Historical Context: John Kunkel Small and Charles A. Mosier first collected Florida Keys lady’s-tresses in 1915 on Elliott Key (5764, NY), in what is now Biscayne National Park. Bruce E. Tatje also collected it once in 1978 at Sewell’s Point in Martin County (10517, FAU). Sewell’s Point has been heavily developed since that time and it is unlikely that any plants remain. A recent collection said to have been from Everglades National Park is treated as a false record, as it cannot be corroborated.

Comments: Florida Keys lady’s-tresses flowers in the winter through spring, when surveys should be conducted.


Recommendations: · Review status of the Citrus County occurrence to determine if Florida Keys lady’s-tresses is extant in Florida. · Consider reintroduction to Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park.

Update: On July 19. 2015, the IRC changed the name from Spiranthes lucayana to Mesadenus lucayanus.