Anacamptis pyramidalis subsp pyramidalis - Pyramidal Orchid

Scientific Name: Anacamptis pyramidalis subsp pyramidalis (syn Anacamptis pyramidalis). 'Anacamptis' is from the Greek, meaning 'bent backwards', an allusion to the position of the pollenia (the sticky mass of pollen) and in this species, also refers to the 'crests' situated at the base of the labellum (bottom petal) which function to guide the head of a pollinating moth or butterfly. 'Pyramidalis' is the Latin for 'pyramidal', a reference to the shape of the flower spike when it first opens.

English Name: Pyramidal Orchid.

French Name: Orchis pyramidal (= 'pyramidal orchid').

5 Key Characters:
  • Flower colour strong rose pink (occasionally pale or white)
  • Flowers quite densely arranged into a distinctive dome or short conical shape
  • A pair of parallel 'cockscomb' shaped projections at the base of the labellum
  • Labellum deeply three lobed, lobes equal in length
  • Foxy scent
Lookalikes: Unmistakeable.

Habitat: Full sun or semi-shade, strong preference for dry alkaline grassland. Open woodland or the edges of young oak forest; poor unimproved traditionally managed sheep pasture; waste land.

Flowering Period: May-June-July. Pollinated by Burnet Moths Zygaenidae.

Status: Rare and protected. Can be locally fairly common in much of the Brenne and the immediate vicinity (within 5km) of Preuilly-sur-Claise, including our orchard and around Chaumussay. A few sites in the Sologne and certain sites in the Touraine Loire Valley (such as the Claise Valley).

References and Further Information:
Link to a post on our daily blog Days on the Claise about Pyramidal Orchids at Chaumussay.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
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Row 1 Left: photograph by my mother (whilst trespassing!) near Roux; Centre left: included to show the species in a typical association of mixed grasses (des graminées ou des herbes), a sedge (laîche) Carex sp and wildflowers dominated by ox-eye daisy (marguerite) Leucanthemum vulgare; Centre right: photograph by my mother, Chaumussay; Right: taken near Paris, growing in a friend's lawn. Rows 2 - 3 in our orchard, May.

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