This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
In spite of its distribution to-day as an Arctic plant in Temperate and Arctic Europe, except Spain, Siberia, and the Himalayas, there is no record of this Orchid in early deposits with others of its kind, though, it is true, as a rule chalk plants do not occur. In Great Britain it is found in the Peninsula province only in N. Somerset; in the Channel province it is absent from S. Wilts, Isle of Wight, but occurs generally in the Thames province; in Anglia everywhere except E. Suffolk, E. Norfolk, Bedford, Hunts; in the Severn province in E. Gloucs. It is thus distributed in S. and E. England from Norfolk, Cambridge, and Gloucester to Sussex and Kent.
The Musk Orchis, even more than the Bee Orchis and kindred species of the chalk-formation, is restricted to the neighbourhood of those lofty hills or downs of South and East England which form so characteristic a feature of the landscape.
Musk Orchis has a slender flowering stem, with lance-shaped, paired radical leaves, oblong, acute. The stem-leaves are solitary. The bracts equal the ovary, and are green.
The flowers are green, all turned one way, in a slender loose spike, with green egg-shaped sepals, the petals lobed each side, not so broad, but longer. The lip is 3-lobed, narrow, the middle one the longest and narrowest, and entire. There is no spur or rostellum. The tubers are like a bed-post, hence the first Greek name.
Musk Orchis is 6 in. in height. It flowers in June and July. It is perennial, and propagated from tubers.
The floral mechanism is like that of Orchis, but the flowers are smaller, and there is no rostellum. They are pollinated by flies, which bear away the pollinia or pollen-masses on their legs. There is no honey, but the flower is strong-scented, especially at night. The disks are large, and the stalks of the pollen-masses are short. The pollinia are attached to the joint between the femur and the trochanter of the first pair of legs. The flowers are visited by numerous insects - Hymenoptera, Terastichus, Diptera, Coleoptera, Malthodes, Braconidae, Pteromalidae. During the day it is visited by ichneumons and flies and small beetles.
Photo. Dr. Somerville Hastings - Musk Orchid (Herminium Monorchis, Br.)
The seeds are numerous, small and light, and the dispersal is effected by the agency of the wind.
Herminium, R. Brown, is from the Greek hermin, knob of a bedpost, from the shape of the tubers. Monorchis is from the Greek monos, and orchis, so called from the single tuber.
Essential Specific Characters:294. Herminium Monorchis, Br. - Stem erect, radical leaves lanceolate, 2; flowers green, musk-scented, in a slender spike; sepals green, ovate; petals longer, no spur.