Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
Anacamptis morio (formerly Orchis morio) flowers very soon after the Early PurpleOrchid, with which it is often confused.
The Green-winged Orchid is not as common as the Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula and, on close inspection, can be identified by the distinct parallel greenish veins on either side of the hood formed by the tepals on the upper part of the flower. These veins are never found on the Early Purple Orchid. The colour of the flowers can vary from deep purple to very pale pink (as below). Occasionally white forms are found - see below.
This lovely orchid is in serious decline in the UK, and it is also thought to have become extinct in The Burren in Ireland due to destruction of its preferred habitat of old, umimproved, species-rich meadows.
We have seen Green-winged Orchids at Kenfig National Nature Reserve in South Wales, and there are marvellous displays of Green-winged Orchids each spring in a large grassy area, which is managed without the use of herbicides and pesticides, at Bristol Waterworks.
Green-winged Orchids cannot tolerate the kind of chemical intervention favoured by the farmers of today in order to maximise on crop production.
In Mediterranean countries where traditional farming methods continue to be used, it is still possible to find large numbers of these beautiful orchids along with some of their close relatives, the Champagne Orchid Anacamptis morio subsp. champagneuxii and the Long-spurred Orchid Anacamptis morio subsp. longicornu. The Algarve region of Portugal is a particularly good place to see these orchids.
The white form of Anacamptis morio shown above was found in the Pembrokeshire National Park in May. Although it is uncommon for white Green-winged Orchids to appear in the area, they are frequently found in the Mediterranean region, and occasionally in other parts of the UK.
In the UK Green-winged Orchid flowers in May and June. In the Mediterranean region the flowers appear from late March to the beginning of June.
The specimens shown on this page were photographed in Somerset during April.
The Plant List
Sue Parker (2016) Wild Orchids of Wales - how, when and where to find them; First Nature
Sue Parker (2014) Wild Orchids of the Algarve - how, when and where to find them; First Nature
Chris Thorogood and Simon Hiscock (2014) Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Algarve; Kew Publishing
Anne and Simon Harrap (2005) Orchids of Britain and Ireland; A&C Black
Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black
If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...