Login Logout
Jump to: navigation, search

Orchis mascula

Template:More inline Template:Speciesbox

Orchis mascula, the early-purple orchid,<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> is a species of flowering plant in the orchid family, Orchidaceae.


Orchis mascula is a perennial herbaceous plant with stems up to Template:Convert high, 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 Template:Convert long and it is composed of 6 to 20 flowers gathered in dense cylindrical spikes. The flower size is about Template:Convert and the color varies from pinkish-purple to purple.<ref name=Stace>Template:Cite book</ref>Template:Rp The lateral sepals are ovate-lanceolate and erect, the median one, together with the petals, is smaller and cover the gynostegium.Template:Clarify 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. Template:Multiple image


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 mimics other species.


The specific epithet is derived from the Latin Template:Lang, 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.


Template:As of, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families recognizes five subspecies:<ref name="WCSP_Orchis_mascula">Template:Citation</ref>

  • Orchis mascula subsp. ichnusae Corrias
  • Orchis mascula subsp. laxifloriformis Rivas Goday & B.Rodr. (including O. langei, O. mascula subsp. hispanica)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. mascula (including O. mascula subsp. pinetorum)
  • Orchis mascula subsp. scopulorum (Summerh.) H.Sund. ex H.Kretzschmar, Eccarius & H.Dietr.
  • Orchis mascula subsp. speciosa (Mutel) Hegi


Template:Div col

Template:Div col end

Distribution and habitat

The species is widespread across Europe, from Portugal to the Caucasus (Ireland, Great Britain, The Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, 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.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> (Codes)<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

It grows in a variety of habitats, from meadows to mountain pastures and woods, in full sun or shady areas, from Template:Convert above sea level.

Cultivation and uses

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.

Culture and symbolism

It is referred to as "long purple" by Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Gertrude: "Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, that liberal shepherds give a grosser name".<ref>https://books.google.fr/books?id=adqzIJYqdnYC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=gertrude+liberal+shepherds+hamlet+%22long+purples%22&source=bl&ots=pg_7N4fqWI&sig=DVYRDP_-CHwRv7IGHtvx-aWOZyE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj5ite6r7zcAhWOz4UKHaTyAV04FBDoAQhGMAc#v=onepage&q=gertrude%20liberal%20shepherds%20hamlet%20%22long%20purples%22&f=false</ref>



  • 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