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SLENDER LADIES TRESSES Spiranthes gracilis

In the human environment there are good times and bad times. We need to take to heart the words of Psalm 145:14-16, “The Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to Thee, and Thou dost give them their food in due time. Thou dost open Thy hand, and dost satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Today’s wildflower has often been featured in the Christmas season. It is the last of the orchid family to bloom in the season from August to October. However, its delicate features and the hostile habitat remind me of Mary. Remember, Mary’s first days of motherhood were spent in a stable.

The new family had to depend on God for essential provisions. It is easy to imagine Joseph’s anxiety that he could not provide better accommodations for Mary. It is easy also to imagine Mary’s anxiety that such an occasion as giving birth would occur in such an unsanitary setting as a stable. Everything about that event was contrary to any reasonable expectations. The Messiah was born in a social, physical, and medically hostile environment. Nothing about it was large and showy.

SLENDER LADIES TRESSES

Spiranthes gracilis

We often think of orchids as large and showy, but wild orchids tend to be small and the slender ladies tresses are one of the smallest. This species of the 25 ladies tresses found in the U.S. prefers dry, sandy areas. Another variety common to this area is the nodding ladies tresses (Spiranthes cernua) which prefers swamps and wet fields.

The blooms of the slender ladies tresses are white and the line of tiny flowers ascends the single stem circling to the right or counter-clockwise as pictured.

The sketch does not adequately illustrate the minute detail of the single blossom that measures about 1/4 of an inch. Within that tiny space there is a lower lip, a central structure with pistil and stamens, two upper petals that arch over the top, and a single cup-shaped sepal. The blooms remain open for about a week.

Leaves of the slender ladies’ tresses are grass-like and basal. When the plant starts blooming, the leaves wilt. The stem, a single spike, may stand as high as eighteen inches.

As I noted in the introduction, we need to take to heart the words of Psalm 145:14-16, “The Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to Thee, and Thou dost give them their food in due time. Thou dost open Thy hand, and dost satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

May we demonstrate that faith by assembling with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad

@yahoo.com.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.