Spiranthes romanzoffiana 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Asparagales Orchidaceae

Scientific Name: Spiranthes romanzoffiana Cham.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Irish Lady's-tresses
Gyrostachys gemmipara (Sm.) Kuntze
Gyrostachys stricta Rydb.
Ibidium strictum (Rydb.) House
Neottia gemmipara Sm.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-03-15
Assessor(s): Rankou, H.
Reviewer(s): Fay, M. & Bilz, M.
European regional assessment: Endangered (EN)
EU 27 regional assessment: Endangered (EN)

Spiranthes romanzoffiana is very local and extremely rare. The species has disappeared from known localities but has also been found at new sites in the north of its range. Fluctuations in numbers of mature individuals have been observed at known sites. The area of occupancy of the species is approximately 150 km² and the species requires an adequate grazing regime. Overgrazing, slugs, changes in management regime such as drainage or increased use of fertilisers are affecting this plant. It is protected in the UK and Ireland and several of its sites are in the Natura 2000 network. This orchid is dependent on the current protection in place. Therefore, Spiranthes romanzoffiana is assessed as Near Threatened, approaching Criterion

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Spiranthes romanzoffiana is found in a few sites in Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland but is more widespread in North America. It was known from one location in England where it has not been found for several years. The species can be found up to 240 m asl. (Delforge 1995, Environment & Heritage Service and National Parks & Wildlife Service 2005, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004). The area of occupancy is estimated at 150 km².
Countries occurrence:
Ireland; United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:150
Upper elevation limit (metres):240
Range Map:175925-1

Population [top]


Spiranthes romanzoffiana is very local and extremely rare. In Britain the species is very scarce; in Scotland the population is estimated to hold 1,100 individuals. In Ireland most of the populations are small and scattered but some of the largest produce from 100 to 200 spikes. A continuing decline has been noted in the Irish populations. The species tends to vanish unpredictably and often very rapidly from known localities. On the other hand, new locations are still being found (Delforge 1995, Environment & Heritage Service and National Parks & Wildlife Service 2005, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Spiranthes romanzoffiana grows in open grassland, peat bogs, coastal marshes, bogs and damp meadows close to lakes and rivers. It prefers damp to wet, acidic substrates. This species grows in full sun and it flowers between August and September (Delforge 1995, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004).


Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Spiranthes romanzoffiana is especially threatened by extensive grazing (sheep, cattle and rabbits often graze off the flower spikes) and slugs can be a problem. However, the lack of grazing also poses problems. Climate change is suspected to influence the species and to be responsible for the extinction of southern populations and newly found records in the north. In addition the plant can be affected by changes in management, such as drainage or use of fertilisers. (Delforge 1995, Environment & Heritage Service and National Parks & Wildlife Service 2005, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

All orchid species are included under Annex B of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The species is listed as Least Concern in the UK red list (Cheffings and Farrell 2005). It is listed as Rare on the Irish national red list (Curtis and McGough 1988). It is protected in the UK and Ireland. Most of the Irish sites are included in protected areas.

The following actions are recommended to protect Spiranthes romanzoffiana;

  • Fencing vulnerable sites to protect the species from wild animals.
  • Ensure adequate levels of grazing.
  • Sympathetic management of isolated populations.
  • Maintenance of a suitable water regime: drainage of meadows should be avoided, and provision of small dams may be necessary to avoid drying of the site in spring.
  • Raise public awareness.
  • Ex situ conservation: artificial propagation, re-introduction, seed collections.
  • Monitoring and surveillance of existing populations and sites.
  • Estimate the population size and study their dynamics.
(Delforge 1995, Environment & Heritage Service and National Parks & Wildlife Service 2005, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004).

Citation: Rankou, H. 2011. Spiranthes romanzoffiana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T175925A7145229. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided