Anacamptis morio subsp morio - Green-Winged Orchid

Scientific Name: Anacamptis morio subsp morio. 'Anacamptis' is from the Greek, meaning 'bent backwards', an allusion to the position of the pollenia (the sticky mass of pollen). 'Morio' is from the Spanish word morion = a helmet worn by the light infantry during Renaissance times, or the stunted children with deformed elongated heads and ears who worked as jesters in Roman households, a reference to the shape of the flower.

English Name: Green-winged Orchid.

French Name: Orchis bouffon (= 'Clown Orchid'). Also Orchis casque (= 'Helmet Orchid'); Satirion (this is a very old name for several different herbs and probably indicates a belief in a plant's intoxicating, hallucinogenic or poisonous properties); Soupe à vin (= 'wine soup', no doubt a reference to the rich purple red colour of the flowers); Morion (see explanation of scientific name); Folle femelle (= 'madwoman', 'wild woman', another indication that the plant was believed to induce an altered state of consciousness); Damette (= 'little lady').

5 Key Characters:
  • the lateral sepals (the side petals of the 'helmet') are strongly marked with green or dark purple lines.
  • the three lobes of the labellum (bottom petal) are nearly equal in length.
  • the flowers are dark violet red, purple, crimson or sometimes whitish or even pure white.
  • the leaves are unspotted.
  • the base of the labellum is white or very light, with dark violet red spots.
Lookalikes: Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula (which usually has spotted leaves and no veining on the 'helmet'); Loose Flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora (which has an unspotted pale base to the labellum and no veining on the 'helmet'). Where the two Anacamptis species occur together they regularly and easily hybridise.

Link to article in Days on the Claise on how to distinguish between Early Purple and Green-winged Orchids.

Habitat: Full sun in waterlogged or dry mineral rich soil; bogs; peaty loam; sand; weakly acid to alkaline; unimproved grassy areas, grazing or hay meadows, calcareous slopes, light woodland. Associated with old vineyards.

Flowering Period: April-May-June. The leaves appear towards the end of September. Pollinated by bumblebees.

Status: Common and can be seen within 5km of Preuilly-sur-Claise. Common in the Brenne, Touraine Loire Valley and the Sologne. Can form conspicuous colonies.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
Photographs numbered from left to right, top to bottom. 2 leaf rosette in vineyard, March. 3-6 in the Parc de Boussay, April. 7 - 26 a large colony in a vineyard near Saint-Aignan (technically, just beyond the boundaries of this blog, but still in the Touraine) April. 9 is a white variant that occurs sometimes.

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