Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
This orchid is very similar to Gymnadenia conopsea but is reputed to be even more highly scented as well as having other characteristics which set it apart.
Gymnadenia odoratissima is a tall (up to 50cm) very spindly plant which has between 4-8 basal leaves which are narrow and erect.
The lax inflorescence is cylindrical when the flowers are fully open. The flowers are usually pale (occasionally darker) pink, and white forms are common in some areas. Each inflorescence carries fewer flowers than other closely related species such as Gymnadenia conopsea.
Gymnadenia odoratissima has a huge range and is recorded from Sweden in the north as far south as northern Spain. It is common in the central European mountain ranges and grows across a swathe of central Europe in Bulgaria, Slovenia, Italy and Greece among others.
This orchid seems to be less specific in terms of habitat than other members of the genus and appears in meadows, mountain pastures (up to 2,700m) and in damp to marshy ground as long as the underlying ground is calcareous and the positions are in full sunshine.
Gymnadenia odoratissima flowers from May to the end of August.
The genus name Gymnadenia means 'naked gland' and refers to the characteristics of the flower spur within which nectar is secreted. The specific epithet odoratissima means 'most fragrant'.
The Plant List
Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black
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