Greater Butterfly Orchid

Leaves and stem

There are two big basal leaves, which are quite broad and shiny and smaller, narrower leaves along the stem.

Flowers and Fruits

The flowers are a shiny greenish-white colour, and have spreading petals and sepals (see adjacent photo of flower), with a long spur. There may be up to 40 flowers along the flowering spike (see image below). The flowers are produced in June and July (in the U.K.). Sweetly scented.

Ecology and other notes

The greater butterfly orchid tends to ‘prefer’ calcium rich soils (such as chalk grassland), but is also to be found in meadows and woodlands - especially along rides and woodland edges, also in clearings. The flowers emit a vanilla-like scent in the late evening / night. The plant varies considerably in height, from 10 inches (25 cm) up to 2 ft (60 cm).

Photos © Andrew Bennett