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Gymnadenia conopsea ENBLA02.jpg
Fragrant Orchid
Gymnadenia conopsea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Orchideae
Subtribe: Orchidinae
Genus: Gymnadenia

Nigritella Rich.

Gymnadenia is a genus in the orchid family (Orchidaceae) containing 22 terrestrial species.

They can be found in damp meadows, fens and marshes, and on chalk or limestone, often in alpine regions of Europe and Asia from Portugal to Kamchatka, including China, Japan, Mongolia, Siberia, the Himalayas, Iran, Ukraine, Germany, Scandinavia, Great Britain, etc.[1][2][3] The Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) has been introduced into the USA and is reportedly naturalized in Connecticut.[4]

These hardy terrestrial orchids are deciduous. They survive the winter through their corms, two deep-cut tubers (more like tuberous roots). Long lanceolate green leaves grow at the bottom of the stem. There are some small leaves at the stop of the stem.

They flower during the summer. The inflorescence is a dense cylindrical spike between 5 and 30 cm long. It can consists of up to 150 small pleasant-smelling flowers. It is recently discovered that eugenol and isoeugenol, floral volatile scent compounds, are catalyzed by single type of enzyme in Gymnadenia species and gene encoding for this enzyme is first functionally characterized gene in this species so far.[5] Their color can vary from pale purple to pink and white. The lip is wide with three lobes. The marginal petals are horizontal. There is a long, thin, threadlike spur.

Several species were formerly classified under Nigritella. The nothogeneric name ×Gymnigritella was used for hybrids between these two groups.


Gymnadenia × heufleri
  • Gymnadenia rhellicani[6] (W. Alps)
    • Gymnadenia rhellicani var. robusta - formerly Nigritella rhellicani Teppner & E.Klein var. robusta (P.Delforge) Kreutz, 2004
  • Gymnadenia × robatschiana[6] (G. cenisia × G. rhellicani) (France)
  • Gymnadenia rubra[6] (C. & E. Alps, S. Carpathians)
  • Gymnadenia runei (Sweden)
  • Gymnadenia stiriaca[6] (Austria)
  • Gymnadenia taquetii (Korea)
  • Gymnadenia × truongiae[7] (G. conopsea × G. corneliana) (France)
  • Gymnadenia × turnowskyi[7] (G. conopsea × G. lithopolitanica) (Austria)
  • Gymnadenia × wettsteiniana[6] (G. nigra × G. rubra) (Alps)
  • Gymnadenia widderi[6] (NE. Alps, C. Italy)


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Flora of China, v 25 p 133, 手参属 shou shen shu, Gymnadenia R. Brown in W. T. Aiton, Hortus Kew., ed. 2. 5: 191. 1813.
  3. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Manina rosea, Fragrant Orchid, Gymnadenia conopsea (L.) R. Br.
  4. ^ Biota of North America Program, county distribution map
  5. ^ Gupta A K, Schauvinhold I, Pichersky E, and Schiestl F P. 2014. Eugenol synthase genes in floral scent variation in Gymnadenia species. Functional & Integrative Genomics.14(4):779-788 doi:10.1007/s10142-014-0397-9.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Formerly in Nigritella.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Formerly in ×Gymnigritella.

See also[edit]


  • Delforge, P. 1998. Contribution taxonomique et nomenclaturale au genre Gymnadenia (Orchidaceae). (Nomenclatural and taxonomical contribution to the genus Gymnadenia (Orchidaceae). Nat. Belg. 79(4): 251-256.

External links[edit]