Some similarities to : Lady Orchid (Neotinea maculata) which is much larger than Burnt-tip Orchid and up to three times taller, where the upper lip of the petals is also dark-purplish-brown (but there are records of completely white specimens). The lip of Lady Orchid is also spreads apart forming a roughly triangular skirt with a short, but upside-down, v-shaped nick.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature : The reddish-brown 'burnt' tip (together with the narrow-lipped red-spotted flowers).
It is said to smell like
Heliotrope (which itself is purported to smell of custard or vanilla). [Heliotropes are garden flowers belonging to the Heliotropium genus, only one of which ever grew wild in the UK,
European Turn-sole (Heliotropium europaeum) and that only grew wild in 1-3 hectads and hasn't been espied for 2 or more decades].
There are only two orchids in the Neotinea Genus (not to be confused with the Neottia Genus of the
Twayblades) to which Burnt-tip Orchid belongs, the other being Dense-Flowered Orchid which is most un-like this lacking a burnt-tip.
It grows on short turf in alkaline chalk or limestone soils, but rarely in meadows. It is fairly rare, occupying less than 100 hectad squares, often on south-facing hillsides.
The late-flowering form slightly differs from the early-flowering for in several aspects:
- It flowers 2 months later (July to August) rather than May to June.
- On account of the longer grass later in summer it also grows taller (8-15cm) rather than 5-10cm.
- The reddish colour of the hood remains largely intact rather than fading to white.
- The lip is both shorter and stubbier, and has larger reddish spots.
- The edge of the lip is usually flushed a magenta shade, which sometimes suffuses throughout the lip (which never occurs on the early-flowering form).