Orchis mascula

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Orchis mascula
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Genus: Orchis
Species: O. mascula
Binomial name
Orchis mascula
(L.) L.

Orchis mascula, the early purple orchid, is a species of orchid in the genus Orchis.

Etymology[edit]

The specific name is derived from the Latin masculus, meaning "male" or "virile"; this could refer to the robust aspect of this species, or to the shape of the two tubers, which resemble testicles.

Description[edit]

Close-up of a flower
Foliage
Distinctive spotted foliage in some specimens

Orchis mascula is a herbaceous plant with stems up to 50–60 centimetres (20–24 in) of height, green at the base and purple on the apex. The root system consists of two tubers, rounded or ellipsoid. The leaves, grouped at the base of the stem, are oblong-lanceolate, pale green, sometimes with brownish-purple speckles. The inflorescence is 7.5–12.5 centimetres (3–5 in) long and it is composed of 6 to 20 flowers gathered in dense cylindrical spikes. The flower size is about 2.5 centimetres (0.98 in) and the color varies from pink to violet. The lateral sepals are ovate-lanceolate and erect, the median one, together with the petals, is smaller and cover the gynostegium. The labellum is three-lobed and convex, with crenulated margins and the basal part clearer and dotted with purple-brown spots. The spur is cylindrical or clavate, horizontal or ascending. The gynostegium is short, with reddish-green anthers. It blooms from April to June.

Reproduction[edit]

This orchid is devoid of nectar and attracts pollinating insects (bees and wasps of the genera Apis, Bombus, Eucera, Andrena, Psithyrus and Xylocopa, and sometimes beetles) with the appearance of its flower which is reminiscent of other species.

Distribution[edit]

The species is widespread across Europe, from Portugal to the Caucasus (Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, most of Russia), in northwest Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco) and in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) up to Iran.[1] (Codes) [2]

Habitat[edit]

It grows in a variety of habitats, from meadows to mountain pastures and woods, in full sun or shady areas, from 0–2,500 metres (0–8,202 ft) above sea level.

Culture[edit]

It is referred to as "long purple" by Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Gertrude: "Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, that liberal shepards give a grosser name".

A flour called salep or sachlav is made of the ground tubers of this or some other species of orchids. It contains a nutritious starch-like polysaccharide called glucomannan. In some magical traditions, its root is called Adam and Eve Root. It is said that witches used tubers of this orchid in love potions.

Subspecies[edit]

  • Orchis mascula subsp. hispanica (A.Niesch. & C.Niesch.) Soó (1972) (Southern Pyrenees, Spain, Portugal, Morocco)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. longibracteatoides Balayer (1986) (Eastern Pyrenees)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. longicalcarata Akhalkatski, H. Baumann, R. Lorenz, Mosulishvili &R. Peter (2005) (Eastern and central Caucasus)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. maghrebiana B. Baumann & H. Baumann (2005)(Morocco)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. mascula (N. & C. Europe to Iran, Canary Islands)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. pinetorum (Boiss. & Kotschy) E.G.Camus (1908) (Macedonia to Iran)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. speciosa (Mutel) Hegi (1909) (Europe)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. wanjkovii (E.Wulff) Soó in G.Keller & al. (1932) (Crimea)

Synonyms[edit]

References[edit]

  • Pierre Delforge - Orchids of Europe, North Africa And the Middle East - 2006, Timber Press
  • Pignatti S. - Flora d'Italia (3 voll.) - Edagricole – 1982, Vol. III
  • Tutin, T.G. et al. - Flora Europaea, second edition - 1993

External links[edit]