This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Perennial herbs with roots often thickened into tubers, entire and parallel-nerved leaves and irregular flowers, solitary or in spikes, racemes, or panicles, each one in the axil of a bract. Perianth superior, irregular, with 6 petal-like segments, the 3 outer ones nearly alike, the lower of the 3 inner ones (the lip) usually larger and often spurred. Stamens 1-2. Pollen usually collected into a pollinium. Ovules minute, very numerous. Fruit a 3-valved capsule.
A very large family of more than 5000 species, spread all over the globe. The tropical ones are mostly epiphytes.
Root of globose, ovoid, or palmate tubers. Leaves chiefly radical, sheathing. Flowers in spikes. Sepals and petals ascending, connivent, or the lateral sepals spreading. Lip spurred.
About 120 species, inhabiting Europe, temperate Asia, Africa, and America.
Tubers elliptical, undivided. Stem leafy, 8-18 inches high, slender. Leaves linear or linear-lanceolate, bright green. Flowers small, lilac or pink, in a short compact, conical or nearly globular spike. Lip spotted with purple, 3-cleft, the middle lobe rather larger, obtuse, truncate, or emarginate. Spur short, barely half-length of ovary. Bracts as long or longer than the ovary, i-nerved, the lower ones 3-nerved.
Alpine and sub-alpine pastures; 4000-7800 feet; local. May to July.
Carpathians, Erzgebirge, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Black Forest, Vosges, Jura; Pyrenees, Apennines, Balkans, Caucasus.
Like many of the European Orchids, it prefers a limestone soil.
Tubers globose, entire. Stem erect, 6 or 8 inches high, with a few narrow lanceolate leaves at the base, and several sheathing scales higher up. Flowers in a handsome loose spike (purple, pink, mauve, or white). Bracts thin, greenish purple, scarcely equalling the ovary. Sepals purple, arching in the form of a helmet. Lip longer than the sepals, broadly 3-lobed, purple, paler in the middle and spotted. Spur obtuse, rather shorter than the ovary.
1. GYMNADENIA ALBIDA.
2. ORCHIS .MORIO (FOUR COLOUR FORMS).
3. HAPENARIA VIRIDIS.
4. GYMNADENIA ODORATISSIMA.
5. LISTERA CORDATA.
4/7 NATURAL SIZE.
Meadows and pastures, often in large quantities. May.
Central and Southern Europe, extending north into the British Isles and Scandinavia and Western and Northern Asia.
Such a beautiful series of colour-forms of this Orchis is not often seen, and still less often painted. The author remembers once coming upon a colony of morio in every shade from white to deep purple on some Lias cliffs on the Somerset coast, west of the River Parret. Rich purple is the usual colour.