Orchis simia - Monkey Orchid

Orchis simia - Monkey Orchid


Phylum: Magnoliophyta

Class: Liliopsida

Order: Orchidales

Family: Orchidaceae

The Monkey Orchid is a member of the Orchis militaris group but is distinguished by rather narrow and curly-looking 'limbs' that comprise the lip of the flower. Unlike most other orchids, the flower spike opens from the top downwards and the topmost flowers turn brown and die first. Now very rare in the UK it still flowers freely in many parts of southern Europe.

Up to 55 flowers are carried on each spike which are typically 20 - 40 cm tall. The Monkey Orchid favours full sun to mid-shade on dryish calcareous soils and occasionally appears in open woodland.

This specimen was photographed in the Lot Valley, southern France, in late May.