Green-winged Orchid

 Windmill Farm is a good place to look for Green-winged Orchids.
Photo: Steve Townsend

Latin name: Anacamptis morio

Other names: Fool Stones, Green-veined Orchid

Conservation status: IUCN – not evaluated; protected under CITES

What to look for:

  • Flowers: Three-lobed, pink or purple. The helmet of sepals above the flower have green stripes
  • LeavesLanceolate, and unspotted (unlike some other similar orchid species)
  • Height10 to 30 cm
  • WhereDamp meadows, roadsides, heath
  • WhenFlowers May to June (often earlier on the Lizard)
  • HabitSingle spikes

Superficially, this threatened orchid species looks a little like the Early-purple Orchid that can also be found on The Lizard, but can be distinguished by its lack of spotting on the leaves, and the helmet-shape of the three sepals (see photograph), with their strong green stripes. It flowers in May and June.

Green-winged Orchid 2The Green-winged Orchid, found mainly in damp meadows and sometimes heath and roadsides, was previously more common in Britain than it is now. Like many of our wildflowers, it prefers a nutrient-poor soil, and agricultural intensification has taken its toll on its distribution and population size, as has habitat loss.

Did you know…?

…the jester-like shape of the flower gives it its species name of morio, which is the Greek word for ‘fool’ or ‘jester’

…it does not produce nectar: pollination is by insects attracted visually by the flowers, rather than by smell

More information and references:

Rose, F. and O’Reilly, C., 2006. The Wild Flower Key, 2nd edition. Frederick Warne, London.

Stace, C., 2010. New Flora of the British Isles, third edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Published: May 2013 (updated April 2014)
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Steve Townsend (top); Amanda Scott (flower detail)