This orchid, formerly known as Orchis morio, flowers very soon after the Early-purple Orchid 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 each 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 very pale pink (as above) to a much deeper purple.
This orchid is in serious decline in the UK and is also thought to have become extinct in the Burren in Ireland due to the destruction of its preferred habitat of old, umimproved, species-rich meadows. It cannot tolerate the kind of chemical intervention favoured by the farmers of today in order to maximise on crop production. We have seen this orchid at Kenfig National Nature Reserve in South Wales, and there are marvellous displays of the Green-winged Orchid at Bristol Waterworks each spring. In the 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 champagneuxii and the Long-spurred Orchid, Anacamptis longicornu. The Algarve region of Portugal is a particularly good place to see these orchis in April and May.
The specimen above was photographed in Somerset in April.
Watermarked preview (new window) of Photolibrary image OR101f_anacamptis morio.jpg (Large file)...
Watermarked preview (new window) of Photolibrary image OR102f_anacamptis morio.jpg (Large file)...