Neottia ovata - Common Twayblade

Scientific Name: Neottia ovata (syn Listera ovata). Named after Martin Lister, a 17th century English doctor and naturalist, and from the Latin 'ovatus' = egg-shaped or oval, a reference to the shape of the leaves. Recent studies have shown that the species should be in the genus Neottia.

English Name: Common Twayblade. The name is old English for 'two leaves'.

French Name: Listère ovale. Also Double-feuille (= double leaf).

5 Key Characters:
  • entirely green.
  • often quite tall (at least 20 cm and can be up to 60 cm).
  • generally only two large oval leaves (sometimes three) .
  • 20-80 small, loosely hooded flowers.
  • Very easy to overlook, or disregard, because of its commoness and lack of showiness.
Lookalikes: None.

Habitat: Calcareous or neutral soil, often rich in nitrates, damp or cool. This species is often found in some shade in broad-leaf deciduous forest clearings and edges, and on the roadside. Here, because spring is quite wet, it is also found in short or long grasslands on clay or calcareous soil. Often present in urban parks. Rarely found in full sun.

Flowering Period: May-June (the plant is visible from April-July). Pollinated mostly by wasps, but also by flies and small beetles. It produces a lot of nectar, which attracts numerous potential pollinating insects.

Status: France's most common orchid, common and widely distributed throughout les 3 départments, although rare in some places north of the Loire and south of Loches. Can be seen within a 5 km radius of Preuilly-sur-Claise. Locally common in the Brenne, Touraine Loire Valley and Sologne.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
All photos enlarge in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 Left & centre on the roadside in woodland near Bossay-sur-Claise. Right at one of the entrances to the carroir (quarry), la Croix-Sourd, May.

Close up of individual flowers.

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