The flowers of the Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) are a bright rosy purple and arranged in a dense pyramid.
This orchid is widespread in dry chalk and limestone grassland in south and east England and can be found in sand dune slacks in the west of the country. The plant is pollinated by a number of butterflies and moths and the flowers are adapted to the proboscises of such species – when the insect withdraws its proboscis the pollinia become attached and are subsequently transported to another flower.
Common Spotted Orchid
The most widespread and common British orchid, the Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) has a preference for chalk and limestone grassland. Its leaves are always dark-spotted but the plant itself may be variable in height. The flower spikes are ‘dense’ and the lip is prominently three-lobed. The colour of the flowers is normally dark to light pink with variable patterning on the lip but they normally have one to three purple loops either side of the lip centre line.
Probably the best known British orchid, it is widespread and can be found in most counties of England and Wales (it is believed to be absent from Scotland). It favours short chalk turf but can also be found on sandy soils, especially the sand of stabilized dunes, and, exceptionally, on clay in the presence of Green-winged Orchid and Adder’s-tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum). Its preference for open, sunny aspects and its relatively large flowers make the Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) fairly easy to find. However, this orchid, like many others, can fluctuate in its appearance and a site showing many dozens of plants one year may be almost devoid the next. This is partly due to the plant’s monocarpic nature in that once it has flowered, the plant usually dies.
A distinctive upright annual that is parasitic on the roots of clovers and other herbaceous plants. Plant totally lacks chlorophyll. Leaves are reduced to brownish scales on the stem. Each tubular flower is 10-18 mm long, two-lipped and tubular; colour variable but usually pinkish-yellow and purple-veined.