Anacamptis laxiflora - Lax-flowered Orchid

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae

Anacamptis laxiflora - Lax-flowered Orchid, southern France

Also known to some as the Jersey Orchid or as the Loose-flowered Orchid, this is another species that has moved genus from Orchis to Anacamptis as a result of the use of molecular studies to determine plant relationships. Until recently it was generally referred to as Orchis laxiflora.

Anacamptis laxiflora - Lax-flowered Orchid, in a wet meadow


This slender but tall orchid grows up to 60cm tall. There are 3 to 8 narrow, pointed leaves arranged along the stem which is flushed deep purple. The inflorescence is lax and carries between 9 to 22 large dark-pink flowers whose erect lateral sepals are bent backwards and are often so close that they touch each other. A hood is formed by the dorsal sepal and the two upper petals. The flower lip is sharply folded length-wise and has a pale (almost white) centre that is usually unmarked or occasionally lightly marked with pink.

Lax-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora in a damp meadow near Le Clapier, southern France


The range of this species extends from the Algarve region of Portugal (where it is very rare) as far north as Sweden and east to some westerly parts of Asia. It is not recorded in mainland Britain but is found in the Channel Islands, where it is referred to as the Jersey Orchid.

Closeup of Anacamptis laxiflora - Lax-flowered Orchid


This orchid prefers damp alkaline habitats and can be found in fens, marshy meadows and beside streams.

Anacamptis laxiflora - Lax-flowered Orchid, in a wet meadow, southern France

Flowering times

In the far south this orchid flowers in April and May, but further north it can be found in full bloom to the end of June

The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Aveyron region and in the Lot Valley, France, in late May.

Anacamptis laxiflora - Lax-flowered Orchid, Lot Valley, southern France

Hybrids and Varieties

One hybrid is reported from Guernsey and Jersey


The genus name Anacamptis comes from the Greek anakampto, meaning 'bent back'; it refers to the shape of the flower spur. The specific epithet laxiflora refers to the open, loose-flowering form of the flowers of this orchid.

Reference sources

The Plant List

Sue Parker (2014) Wild Orchids of the Algarve - where, when and how 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

Den Nordiska Floran (1992) Bo Mossberg, Stefan Ericsson and Lennart Stenberg; Wahlstrom & Widstrand

Fielding, Turland and Mathew (2005) Flowers of Crete; Kew

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