This unmistakeable orchid grows to over a metre in height. Although widespread throughout the Mediterranean region it is localised and rare except in Rhodes, where it can occur in particularly large colonies.
Everything about this orchid is big, from the robust stem, the large leaves that clasp the stem, and the large flowers that are arranged in a dense spike. The strongly fragrant flowers are very variable in colour, from white-and-green combinations to dark pink and purple with strong lip markings. The lip is divided into three lobes, with the central lobe being subdivided again.
Usually growing in open ground with alkaline substrate, the Giant Orchid can also appear in open woodland and old olive groves; it likes plenty of sunshine.
This orchid flowers very early in the year - from the end of February to the beginning of April. The specimens shown here were found in Crete. Other countries were the Giant Orchid occurs include Cyprus, Spain, Portugal and Italy, to name but a few.