LADY ORCHID

Orchis purpurea

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8bicolour
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8beetroot
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ4
 
type
typeZspiked
 
type
typeZspurred
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8pleasant smell8fragrant
fragrant
rarity
rarityZscarce

14th April 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The flowers in bud, not yet open.


The Pyrenese, Spain. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
To 50cm; an over-sized version of Burnt-Tip Orchid which grows to only 15cm. (But Burnt-tip Orchid has now been moved from the Orchis Genera to a differing Genera [Neotinea], so not as similar as the appearance may suggest).


Goring Gap, River Thames, Goring. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
The leaves emerge from near the base of the plant, are broad, taper to a point, and are without spots.
2nd May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The lip looks like a womans 'skirt' with polka dots and can be white, or pale pink, as here.




The Pyrenese, Spain. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
Has dark-brown purplish (beetroot) coloured hooded sepals. On this specimen the lip or 'skirt' is white. The polka dots are purplish 'spots' scattered all over but avoiding the lower edges, but spotless forms are not un-common. An all-white form also exists (actually, the 'hood' of those is pale creamy/greenish).


Goring Gap, River Thames, Goring. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
The petals has thin arms angled 30° downwards, and a broad skirt having two broad lobes with a straightish bottom edge. Between the two lobes is a very narrow and short 'tail'. The 'spots' on the 'dress' are seen to consist of short purple-coloured bristly hairs. The petals are also edged pink.


14th April 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The spur behind the hood is slim and pink (best seen in the top right-most flower bud).


2nd May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The ladies here in their most splendid attire.


18th April 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The spots on the 'dress' avoid the lower edge. Here the spots have merged into a broader band, and the pink-edging has widened far greater than is the norm.


14th April 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
Large spots here not merged.


Not to be semantically confused with : Lady's Slipper Orchid, Autumn Lady's Tresses, Irish Lady's-Tresses or Creeping Lady's Tresses [other Orchids with similar names] nor with Lady's Mantle, Lady's Bedstraw, Lady's Smock or Lady's Teardrops (Fuchsia magellanica) [plants with similar names belonging to differing families]

Can be mistaken for : Burnt-Tip Orchid (aka Burnt Orchid) (Neotinea ustulata), but that is much shorter at only one-third the height, with flowers half the size and generally has most of the dark-purple hoods at the huddled together at the top of the flowering spike, rather than having all the hoods the same shade of dark purple. Also, the 'womans dress' has far fewer purple spots, no pink edging, and therefore looks more white than does Lady Orchid.

Hybridizes with : Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia) to produce Orchis × angusticuris, which is only found in one hectad in the UK.

Slight resemblance to : Military Orchid and Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia), which can be distinguished from each other by the shape of the lip (with body and 'limbs'). [All three have longish hoods which curve upwards at the end].

Peloric flowers, where the flowers have actinomorphic (radial) symmetry, are known and have three lips ('skirts') spaced at 120° intervals. Specimens with upside-down ladies are also sometimes found.

A fairly rare plant, occupying less than a dozen hectads, all South and East of Bristol (especially in Kent) and without any presence in Eire.

It grows in open woods of Beech, Ash or Hazel and scrub on chalk soils. Occupies bare steeply sloping ground and associates with Yew Trees. Only rarely out in the open on grassland. Able to remain in a vegetative state in the ground for decades it can suddenly re-appear in spectacular displays after ground clearance such as felling of trees, or following woodland coppicing.

It has a pleasant fragrance (those of Burnt-Tip Orchid smell like Heliotrope).


  Orchis purpurea  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Orchis
Orchis
(Orchids)

LADY ORCHID

Orchis purpurea

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

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