Waterspider False Reinorchid

waterspider false reinorchid, Habenaria repens, flower close-up
Waterspider False Reinorchid

The waterspider false reinorchid, Habenaria repens, is a semi-aquatic terrestrial orchid.

Habenaria repens is found in the orchid family (Orchidaceae).

It grows to a height of about two feet.

The clasping leaves are sword shaped (gladiate) and grow upwards along the stem. Leaves are very thick and grow from 2 to 9 inches long.

This terrestrial orchid has very large flower racemes with the lower flowers opening first and continuing up the stalk as they mature.

The small, delicate, flowers are green with slender, lateral, winglike petals and are 3/4” across. The flowers appear in the summer, fall and winter in central and north Florida, but all year in the southern part of the state. 

The flowers emit an intoxicating fragrance of vanilla to attract their evening pollinators. 

The flowers appear in tall racemes of up to thirty individual flowers. The sepals are green and the petals and lip are greenish-white. The central petal of the flower is lobed with a spur which makes the flowers look like tiny spiders. The flower spikes rarely exceed a foot in height.

Orchid and milkweed flowers have a pollen structure called a pollinia.  A pollinia is a mass of 2 to 8 knob like packets of pollen. In the flower structure the pollinia are located underneath the male anther cap and contain a sticky structure called the viscidium. The viscidium helps the pollinia stick to the pollinator’s head so it can transport the pollen to other flowers and consequently pollinate them. 

It occurs naturally in riparian areas such as the margins of streams, ponds, lakes and wet ditches. It prefers open, treeless areas, with wet soil. It can also be found growing in standing water or in mats of floating vegetation along wet areas.

In the home landscape it grows in full sun to partial shade with moist soils and can grow in standing water. It is an attractive plant to grow in problem wet areas or in a naturalized, waterfront, setting.

It grows in garden zones 8 to 11.

The waterspider false reinorchid, Habenaria repens, is native to the West Indies, Central America, Mexico and the coastal plains of the southeastern United States.

Insects, such as flies, bees, and beetles, use the flowers as a nectar source during the day and nocturnal moths use the flowers as a nectar source at dusk and throughout the evening hours. Ducks like to forage among the flower racemes for small insects and spiders.

This orchid has a special mechanism to deter crayfish from eating its foliage by emitting a chemical called Habenariol. [1]

It spreads by underground runners. Propagation is achieved by transplanting specimens or growing from seed.

You can purchase  Waterspider False Reinorchid seeds at my Ebay Store here.

These native orchid seeds require mycorrhizal fungi to germinate so they are best planted in a natural site, which meets their growing requirements, or the use of natural soil and leaf litter in growing them.

moth with Habenaria repens pollinia on its head
moth with Habenaria repens pollinia on its head
waterspider false reinorchid, Habenaria repens, plants
Waterspider False Reinorchid
Habenaria repens and Night-time Pollinators video link
Waterspider False Reinorchid

Sharon's Florida specializes in Florida ecotype seeds.

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