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Anacamptis pyramidalis


Anacamptis pyramidalis, the pyramidal orchid,<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the genus Anacamptis of the family Orchidaceae. The scientific name Anacamptis derives from Greek ανακάμτειν 'anakamptein' meaning 'bend forward', while the Latin name pyramidalis refers to the pyramidal form of the inflorescence.


Charles Darwin's book Fertilisation of Orchids included an illustration of the head of a moth with its proboscis laden with several pairs of pollinia from Orchis pyramidalis

This hardy plant reaches on average Template:Convert of height, with a maximum of Template:Convert. The stem is erect and unbranched. The basal leaves are linear-lanceolate with parallel venation, up to Template:Convert long, the cauline ones are shorter and barely visible on the stem. The arrangement of hermaphroditic flowers in a compact pyramidal shape is very distinctive and gives the orchid its common name. The colour of the flower varies from pink to purple, or rarely white, and the scent is described as "foxy". The flowers have six tepals, being three small sepals and three petals. Two small petals are on the sides, while the third and lower (labellum) is large and trilobate. At the back of the flower there is a tubular spur of about Template:Convert long, while the labellum bears two lateral small flaps. The flowering period extends from April through July.

Habitat and Distribution

Anacamptis pyramidalis requires a sunny spot on diverse soils: loamy or clay. It can even grow on very alkaline soil. It can be found on meadows, in grassland, sand dunes, maquis as well as dry and well exposed slopes, to an altitude of Template:Convert above sea level.<ref>Pakistan Journal of Botany - Studies on the morphology, anatomy and ecology of Anacamptis pyramidalis (L.) in Turkey</ref><ref>Plants for a Future - Anacamptis pyramidalis</ref>

In the UK, Anacamptis pyramidalis is one of the most successful orchid species on roadside verges, and colonises other disturbed habitats like airfields, quarries and reservoirs.<ref>Plant Life - Pyramidal Orchid</ref>

This orchid is native to southwestern Eurasia, from western Europe through the Mediterranean region eastwards to Iran. In Germany, it is rare and was declared Orchid of the Year in 1990 to heighten awareness of this plant. This orchid is especially common on the Isle of Wight in the South of England, and was designated the county plant in 2008. On the Isle of Wight, it favours growth in chalky or sandstone-rich soil, and thus can easily be found on the Downland and cliffs to the west and south of the island.Template:Citation needed


The flowers are pollinated by butterflies and moths. To ensure the fertilization, their morphology is well adapted to the proboscis of Lepidoptera, especially Euphydryas, Melanargia, Melitaea, Pieris and Zygaena species. The mechanism by which its pairs of pollinia attach themselves to an insect's proboscis was discovered by Charles Darwin and described in his book on the Fertilisation of Orchids.<ref name=orchids24>Template:Harvnb</ref>

Anacamptis pyramidalis has been suggested to form mycorrhizal relationships with Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Papulaspora species.<ref>Applied ecology and environmental research - In Vitro Symbiotic Germination Potentials of Some Anacamptis, Dactylorhiza, Orchis and Ophrys Terrestrial Orchid Species</ref><ref>Turkish Journal of Botany - Diversity of endophytic fungi from various Aegean and Mediterranean orchids (saleps)</ref>


Inflorescences of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Plants of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Inflorescences of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Close-up on inflorescence of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Close-up on a flower of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Leaf of Anacamptis pyramidalis


There are some notable varieties, which are sometimes treated as subspecies – and as they seem to be limited to certain regions, this may be correct:Template:Citation needed

  • Anacamptis pyramidalis var. tanayensis (Chenevard) Soó in Keller – Tanay Pyramidal Orchid - Flowers darker and smaller. Fribourg and Valais cantons (Switzerland).
  • Anacamptis pyramidalis var. urvilleana (Sommier & Caruana Gatto) Schlechter – Maltese Pyramidal Orchid, an endemic orchid from Malta with smaller and paler flowers flowering 4–6 weeks before Anacamptis pyramidalis.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>
  • Anacamptis pyramidalis var. sanguinea (Druce) Kreutz – Western Irish Pyramidal Orchid. -Inflorescence rounder, plant smaller overall. County Galway to County Kerry (Ireland)

The variety alba can be found anywhere in the Pyramidal Orchid's range; its flowers are white.

Medicinal uses

Template:Unreferenced section The dried and ground tuber gives a fine white powder, called salep. This is a very nutritious sweet starchlike substance. It is used in drinks, cereals and in making bread. It is also used medicinally in diets for children and convalescents.


The pyramidal orchid was voted the County flower of the Isle of Wight in 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife.<ref>Plantlife website County Flowers page Template:Webarchive</ref>



External links

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