If anyone thinks that any specimens on this page are other than Chalk Fragrant-orchid (aka Common Fragrant-orchid), then please let me know (and preferably submit some photos which definitely are Chalk Fragrant-orchid, especially if you have ID'd them by a genetic DNA scanner to be 100% certain, then your Author would be pleased to insert them here with acknowledgements).
|IDENTIFICATION OF FRAGRANT ORCHIDS
All three species of Fragrant Orchid have a great propensity for their so-called 'identifying features' to overlap so much that quite often it is impossible to separate the three species. The identifying books don't help much either for there are at least 6 ID guides to separating the three species, but often they also disagree on which features are better for identifying them. The only fool-proof reliable way of identifying them for certain is by DNA analysis, whereupon the delineation between the three is clear-cut (it is by this means that the 3 species were split from just one species with 3 sub-species in the first place). But hardly anyone has a DNA analyser, let alone an affordable lightweight portable one for use in the field and even if they had, most plants have not yet been scanned or added to the DNA database (as far as your Author understands - as of March 2019).
Fragrant Orchids are possibly the hardest flowers to reliably and accurately identify in the field, and there are some that cannot. If any reader thinks I have mis-identified any, pleaase let me know which one(s) and what their real identities are - or if it is one of those unidentifiables and just needs deleting (I'll go and dig it up :-).
But a Fragrant Orchids itself, counting the 3 as just one, is easily identified as a Fragrant Orchid, the trouble only comes when trying to determine which one...
The identity of the Nob End SSSI specimens have been identified as belonging to Common/Chalk Fragrant-orchid, even the ones with strealined-jet shaped lateral sepals and those with with the extra-wide lateral sepals, such is the typical deviance of Fragrant-orchids from their design specification delineated in the numerous Fragrant-orchid identification keys. Nob End also has Marsh fragrant-orchid, but that flowers at a slightly differing time.
Some experts say that the 3 species don't flower at the same time, but others say that you cannot rely on this! Most of the 3 Fragrant Orchids do not grow together anyway, some areas have only one species, some two (as in Nob End) and a few (Waitby Greenriggs) possess all three species, but not usually all flowering at the same time.
But a Fragrant Orchid itself, counting the 3 as just one, is easily identified as a Fragrant Orchid, the trouble only comes when trying to determine which one...
Easily confused with : all other
Gymnadenia species form Inter-Genera Hybrids with several other Orchids:
- (Gymnadenia conopsea × Dactylorhiza fuchsii) to produce X Dactylodenia heinzeliana which is found in scattered locations through the UK.
- (Gymnadenia conopsea × Dactylorhiza maculata) to produce X Dactylodenia legrandiana which is mostly found in northern Britain but has been found scattered in Britain and Ireland.
- (Gymnadenia conopsea × Dactylorhiza praetermissa) to produce X Dactylodenia wintoni which is found in Surrey and South Hants
- (Gymnadenia conopsea × Dactylorhiza purpurella) to produce X Dactylodenia varia (??) which has not been confirmed
- (Gymnadenia borealis × Coeloglossum viride) to produce X Gymnaglossum jacksonii which occurs sporadically in Southern England, Salop and County Antrim - which are like those of Gymnadenia but with inflorescences tinged green and with a much shorter spur.
- (Gymnadenia borealis × Anacamptis pyramidalis to produce X Gymnanacaptis anacamptis found in South Hants, Gloucestershire and County Durham which has labellum plates (that with the three lobes) like those of Anacamptis species with the scent of Gymnadenia species.
Intergenera hybrids should not really occur if the taxonomy is correct; intergenera hybrids usually indicate that the taxonomy is wrong, but in the case of Orchids, this taxonomy will never be sorted out, there are other unseen players on the field: their fungal partners.
Fragrant Orchids bear somme semblance to Pyramidal Orchid, but Pyramidal Orchids have two flaps either side of the lower part of the 'hood' - which are absent from Fragrant Orchids.