MUSK ORCHID

Herminium monorchis

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8green
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ4 petalsZ5
 
type
typeZspiked
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8honey
honey
rarity
rarityZscarce
 

2nd July 2013, Noar Hill, Hampshire. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Growing low, to but 15cm. The single stem is grass-green, but the lowers are a pale yellowish-green. Hard to spot amidst the grasses.


2nd July 2013, Noar Hill, Hampshire. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
The flowers angle downwards from a curved ovary.


2nd July 2013, Noar Hill, Hampshire. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
With three oval sepals and an inner flower comprising two longer splayed-outwards petals plus a lip which has two forwardly-directed lateral lobes half-way along. All concolorous.


2nd July 2013, Noar Hill, Hampshire. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
The lip (labellum) is narrow and most easily seen in the upper flower. It has two smaller side-lobes.


Easily mistaken for : Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii) which also has a short (actually slightly taller) spike of yellow-green flowers, but there they are angled upwards (rather than angled downwards as Musk Orchid)

Some similarities to : Bog Orchid (Hammararbya paludosa) but that is half the height at onlt 6cm and has dark-green flowers that are outwardly-directed.

Superficial resemblance to : Small-White Orchid (Pseudorchis albida) but that also has flowers that are angled outwards and which are variously white, creamy-white, yellowish-green or green.

Not un-like : Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) but at 60cm that is much taller, and the flowers, although mainly yellowish-green, are man-shaped - tall and standing up with a large round cowl as a 'head'. No relation to : Musk (Mimulus moschatus), Musk-Mallow (Malva moschata), Greater Musk-mallow (Malva alcea), Musk Storksbill (Erodium moschatum), nor to Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) [plants with similar names belonging to disparate families].

In the UK, Musk Orchid is alone in the genus Herminium, but globally there are about species. In the UK it only occurs in the SE of England and is quite rare, occurring in perhaps less than 20 hectads. The leaves are 2 or 3 in number and elongated elliptical. It grows in short grass on lime.

Contrary to the name, it smells of honey rather than musky. The floral fragrance is essential for the attraction of pollinators, which must be very small indeed in order to pollinate this particular orchid. However, it seems that Musk Orchid mainly propagates vegetatively, forming large colonies in some European locations.


  Herminium monorchis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Herminium
Herminium
(Orchids)

MUSK ORCHID

Herminium monorchis

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]