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Anacamptis morio - Green-winged Orchid

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

Anacamptis morio, Green-winged Orchid

Anacamptis morio (formerly Orchis morio) flowers very soon after the Early PurpleOrchid, with which it is often confused.

Description

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.

Anacamptis morio, Green-winged Orchid - pale form

Distribution

The Green-winged Orchid can be found throughout the UK, in many European countries including Slovenia and Bulgaria, and in North Africa and the Near East.

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.

Habitat

Green-winged Orchids cannot tolerate the kind of chemical intervention favoured by the farmers of today in order to maximise on crop production.

Anacamptis morio, Green-winged Orchid - closeup of flower

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.

White form of Anacaptis morio

White form of Anacamptis morio - Picture: Denholm O'Hanlon

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. The other specimens shown on this page were photographed in Somerset during April and (group shown below) in southern France in May.

Anacamptis morio, southern France

Flowering times

In the UK Green-winged Orchid flowers in late April, May and June. In the Mediterranean region the flowers appear from late March to the beginning of June.

Hybrids and Varieties

One hybrid is reported from Guernsey and Jersey

One hybrid is reported from England and Wales

Etymology

The genus name Anacamptis comes from the Greek anakampto, meaning 'bent back'; it refers to the shape of the flower spur. The specific epithet morio is Latin and means 'clown'. The striped and spotted flowers of the Early Purple-orchid are said to resemble the appearance generally associated with clowns.

Reference sources

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


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