Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
This orchid occurs in two colours, red and yellow. They frequently appear together, although the red flowers tend to bloom slightly earlier than the yellow ones.
A somewhat short and stumpy looking plant, this orchid grows to around 30cm in height. The 4-7 basal leaves are unspotted and pointed at the tips. The large flowers can be either red or yellow and there are rare appearances of salmon pink intermediate forms; they are large and are carried on a lax inflorescence.
The common name refers to the flowers' slight scent, which resembles that of elder flowers.
Elder-flowered Orchids favour calcareous or sometimes slightly acid soils and grow in pastures, mountain meadows and grassland, often in great numbers.
The specimens shown here were photographed near Murat, southern France, in early June.
Dactylorhiza sambucina flowers from April to the end of June. The red form flowers slightly earlier than the yellow form.
The Plant List
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
Flowers in Slovenia (1990) Luka Pintar, Tone Wraber
If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...