Plant Profiles Green Winged Orchid

Orchids are definitely a diverse and aesthetically pleasing group of flowering plant. They commonly require specific conditions to grow and favor certain areas over others. There numerous species of orchid and from these species, many hybrids have been created. One species of orchid that will be profiled is the green-winged orchid (anacamptis morio).

Green-winged orchid – (picture link)       

The green-winged typically reaches heights of around 16 inches. Its leaves are green lances that have no spots or other identifying marks. The leaves grow at the base but also thinner leaves grow along the stem and can cover a portion of most of the stem up to the flowering area and actually sheath the stem. Its latin name comes from the fact that the hood of each flower actually looks like a jesters hat which accounts for the ‘morio’ part of the name which translates as ‘fool’ or ‘jester’.

Flowering occurs in a loose bunching at the top of the plant and around 5 to 25 helmet shaped flowers can form. Flowers are most commonly a purple color but can range from white to pink all the way to a deeper purple. The name of the flower is derived from the green stripes which are present on the side petals of each flower. The lip of the flower is often paler than the other petals and will have dark spots on it. The orchid typically flowers from April to June but in some areas it may flower as early as February.

Growing conditions

The green-winged orchid grows primarily on unfertilized limestone rich soil and poor grasslands where the grass is not very tall and not near woodlands. Damp pastures and meadows as well as heathland, sand dunes, alongside railways, and even areas such as churches and golf courses all are habitats for this orchid. The orchid grows in Europe and even into the Middle East.

Loss of habitats

The green-winged orchid is actually on the decline in the UK. Its habitats are being taken over by land development and the amount of area it grows on has dwindled to around 5 square kilometers. The orchid needs unimproved grasslands which are uneven and contain many different species of grass. Even areas that have been plowed or seeded with grass will not support the orchid. It is also possible that particular soil fungi that the orchid requires for survival has also been lost. The orchid however is protected in many areas so it still has habitats but recovery has been slow.