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Orchis militaris

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Orchis militaris Poir. is a synonym of Orchis italica.

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Orchis militaris, the military orchid,<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> is a species of orchid native to Europe. It is the type species of the genus Orchis.

Description

This plant grows to a height of 20 to 50 cm with a robust stem with rather drawn up oblong basal leaves. The inflorescence forms a purplish dense cone consisting of from 10 to 40 flowers. In each flower the sepals and side petals are gathered together to form a pointed "helmet" (whence it gets its name), a lilac colour outside and a veined purple colour inside. The central tongue finishes in two lobes separated by a tooth.

Flowering period

Depending on location, April to June.

Habitat

Likes full light on a dry calcareous substrate. For example, unfertilized lawns, meadows, edges and light woods up to 2000m in altitude.

Distribution

It is well distributed around Europe, reaching as far north as southern Sweden, but rather rare in the Mediterranean areas.

It is extremely rare in Britain and a protected species, occurring only at the Rex Graham nature reserve in Suffolk and the Buckinghamshire Chilterns.

Uses

Orchis militaris contains the nutritious polysaccharide glucomannan, and is one of the original species of orchid whose ground-up roots are used to make the drink salep.

Chemistry

Orchinol is a phenanthrenoid that can be isolated from infected O. militaris.<ref>Structure of Orchinol, Loroglossol, and Hircinol. Roy M. Letcher and Llewellyn R. M. Nhamo, J. Chem. Soc., Perkin Trans. 1, 1973, pages 1263-1265, Template:Doi</ref>

References

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External links

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