Nodding Lady’s Tresses

2021 August 29

On August 23, 2021, we decided to check out the “Peepsock Trail”[1] at the east end of town. It turns out to be a nice little trail across some reclaimed stamp sands. It even has a long bridge that cuts across the middle of a pond. At the extreme end of the trail, where it is close to the beach, we spotted several of these flowers:


The flower stalk was most of the height of the plant. I only really got one decent picture, because I forgot to bring my actual camera and so had to make do with my phone camera.

As we were walking back out, we passed a fellow who said excitedly, “did you see the Lady’s Tresses?” And, as it turns out, he was talking about this very flower.

Nodding Lady’s Tresses, Spiranthes cernua, turn out to be one of the few orchid species native to Michigan, and only the second one that I have posted (the previous one was the Northern Green Orchid). Again, it doesn’t look much like what most people think of as an orchid, which probably saves it from a lot of wildflower collectors. It is pretty enough in a quiet sort of way. There are lots of species of orchids, but the vast majority are tropical plants, so there are only a few that one is likely to find this far north.

And, the fact that it is growing on reclaimed stamp sand (copper mining tailings) is very encouraging, showing that the environment does recover, eventually.

[1] The Peepsock Trail starts pretty much across the street from the Pilgrim River Steakhouse (there is a sign for the start of the trail on the biking/hiking/snowmobile trail that parallels the road). It goes through the woods, across the pond, and then kind of circles around the sewage treatment plant to the beach. They’ve apparently been using the stabilized sludge from the sewage plant as compost to reclaim the stamp sands, and it does seem to be working out OK. It doesn’t even smell very bad.

3 Responses
  1. Carole permalink
    August 29, 2021

    I have grass-leaved ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes praecox) in my S Alabama lawn. They bloomed in May.

  2. Anne Bingham permalink
    August 30, 2021

    You left out important info! Why is it called the Peepsock Trail? After the Peepsock family who built the first European house on the land? Corruption of a Native American word? Somebody hiked it who had a hole in their shoe and their socks peeped out?

  3. September 5, 2021

    Anne: That’s actually a surprisingly hard question to answer. No one around here seems to know. There is a Peepsock Road not to far away from the trailhead, so I suppose the idea of there once having been a family of Peepsocks is probably most likely. But I can’t confirm that. There doesn’t seem to be anyone of that name living in the area now.

Comments are closed.