Himantoglossum hircinum

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"Lizard orchid" redirects here. For other uses, see Lizard orchid (disambiguation).
lizard orchid
Himantoglossum hircinum LC0347.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Tribe: Orchideae
Subtribe: Orchidinae
Genus: Himantoglossum
Species: H. hircinum
Binomial name
Himantoglossum hircinum
(L.) Spreng.
  • Satyrium hircinum L.
  • Orchis hircina (L.) Crantz
  • Loroglossum hircinum (L.) Rich.
  • Aceras hircinum (L.) Lindl.

Himantoglossum hircinum, the lizard orchid, is a species of orchid in the genus Himantoglossum found across Europe, from Spain eastwards to the Balkans and in western North Africa. It is usually rare but can sometimes be found in great numbers in suitable habitats. This orchid grows in dry meadows, rocky areas, and open woods. It may reach a height of 133 centimetres (52 in).


Great Britain[edit]

The largest British population of the lizard orchid is found amongst sand dunes at Sandwich Bay in Kent, where there are many hundred plants.[1] A relatively large population is found in East Anglia, along the stretch of the Devil's Dyke that runs through Newmarket Racecourse. There are a number of other sites where it occurs in small numbers.


Small populations can be found in many parts of France, including Centre, Massif Central, Alsace, Ardèche, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Saône-et-Loire, the Jura, Calvados, Puy de Dôme, Loir et Cher, Indre et Loire, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Haute-Garonne, Aveyron, Tarn, Nièvre, Champagne, Aube, Val d'Oise, île de Noirmoutier, the Vendée, around Paris, Maine et Loire, Normandy, Rhône and Drôme.


Small numbers have been found in the Mugello valley at the foot of the Apennines north of Florence.


Orchinol, loroglossol and hircinol are phenanthrenoids that can be isolated from infected Loroglossum hircinum.[2]


  1. ^ Sandwich Bay and Hacklinge Marshes SSSI citation
  2. ^ Structure of Orchinol, Loroglossol, and Hircinol. Roy M. Letcher and Llewellyn R. M. Nhamo, J. Chem. Soc., Perkin Trans. 1, 1973, pages 1263-1265, doi:10.1039/P19730001263

External links[edit]