Photographs of British Orchids

Follow the links below to see the orchid of your choice or browse thumbnails of the photographs in the HOS Gallery. To return to this index, it is best to use the 'BACK' button on your browser menu bar, or select 'Photographs' from the contents table on the left.

Thanks to the generosity of many members, we are now displaying photographs of the majority of species of British Orchids, plus several sub-species and varieties. However, if YOU have a good photograph of a British species or variety that is not included here, or maybe a better picture of something already included, please get in touch with Mike Gasson .

* latest photographs added

Latin names shown in brackets correspond to the names in use prior to the publication, by Professor Richard Bateman and colleagues, of a phylogeny based on DNA sequences, rather than morphological features; see HOS Newsletter October 1998, April 2001 and July 2001.

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All pictures have been provided by HOS members, who retain the copyright to their pictures.
None of the pictures may be reproduced without the owner's permission.



THUMBNAILS      Species A to G  (may be slow to load)

BROWSE THUMBNAILS       Species H to S  (may be slow to load)

BROWSE THUMBNAILS      Hybrids  (may be slow to load)

BROWSE THUMBNAILS      Pollination  (may be slow to load)

* latest photographs added

Aceras anthropophorum - see Orchis anthropophora

Anacamptis (Orchis) laxiflora  (Lax flowered or 'Jersey' Orchid): Whole plant (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Barry Tattersall); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Anacamptis morio (Orchis morio) (Green-winged or Green-veined Orchid): Location (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Neville Roberts); var. alba (Bill Temple)

Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid): Location (Tony Hughes); Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Bill Temple); var. alba (Tony Hughes)

Cephalanthera damasonium (White Helleborine): Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Bill Temple)

Cephalanthera longifolia (Sword-leaved Helleborine): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Flower spike (Simon Tarrant); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Cephalanthera rubra (Red Helleborine): Whole plant (Bill Temple); Close-up (Bill Temple)

Coeloglossum viride - see Dactylorhiza viridis

Corallorhiza trifida (Coral-root Orchid): Whole plant (Steve Davidson); Whole plant (Alan Gendle)

Cypripedium calceolus (Lady's Slipper Orchid): Whole plant Barry Tattersall; Whole plant (Graham Giles); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza ebudensis (Hebridean Marsh Orchid): Whole plant (Steve Davidson)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid): Flower spikes (Bill Temple); var. alba (Tony Hughes); "Dagger lipped" form (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. rhodochila: Flower spikes  (Graham Giles); Flower spike (Patrick Marks);  Close-up (Graham Giles); Close-up (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. cornubiensis: Flower spike (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Stan Jordan)

Dactylorhiza incarnata (Early Marsh Orchid): Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. coccinea (Early Marsh Orchid, dune form): Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. cruenta (Blood-red Early Marsh Orchid or Flecked Marsh Orchid); Whole plant (Barry Tattersall); Whole plant (Kevin Joynes); Flower spike (Barry Tattersall)

Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. ochroleuca (Early Marsh Orchid, yellow form): Flower spike (Bill Temple); Flower spike (Stan Jordan)

Dactylorhiza incarnata var. leucantha (Early Marsh Orchid, white form): Whole plant* (Patrick Marks); Flower spike* (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza incarnata var. pulchella (Early Marsh Orchid, purple form): Flower spike (Tony Hughes); var. alba (Richard Robinson)

Dactylorhiza occidentalis var. kerryensis (Irish Marsh Orchid): Whole plants (Kevin Joynes)

Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted Orchid): Flower spike (Bill Temple); Whole plant (Tony Hughes); var. rhodochila (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Southern Marsh Orchid): Whole plant (Bill Temple); Flower spike (Bill Temple);  hyperchromic form Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Close-up (Stan Jordan)

Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh Orchid): Whole plant (Alan Gendle); Flower spike (Tony Hughes); var. atrata (hyperchromic form); Flower spike (Richard Robinson); Close-up (Richard Robinson)

Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides (Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid); Whole plant (Alan Gendle), White flowered form Flower spike (Stan Jordan)

Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides ssp. lapponica (Lapland marsh orchid); Whole plant (Kevin Joynes); Close-up (Alan Gendle)

Dactylorhiza (Coeloglossum) viridis  (Frog Orchid): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Plants* (Brian Hodgkin); Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up* (Brian Hodgkin)

Epipactis atrorubens (Dark Red Helleborine): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Epipactis dunensis (Dune Helleborine): Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Bill Temple)

Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Flower spike (Simon Tarrant); green flowered form Close-up (John Spencer); var. albifolia  Whole plant (Bill Temple); Close-up (Bill Temple)

Epipactis leptochila (Narrow-lipped Helleborine): Close-up (Bill Temple)

Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine): Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Bill Temple); var. ochroleuca; Flower spike (Graham Giles);  var. purpurea; Close-up (John Devries)

Epipactis phyllanthes (Green Helleborine): Close-up (Graham Giles); Close-up (John Spencer)

Epipactis purpurata (Violet Helleborine): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes); var. rosea Whole plant (Graham Giles); Close-up (Graham Giles)

Epipactis sancta (Lindisfarne Helleborine): Flower spike (Bill Temple); Close-up (Bill Temple)

Epipogium aphyllum (Ghost Orchid): Whole plant (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Barry Tattersall); Close-up (Nigel Johnson); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Goodyera repens (Creeping Ladies' Tresses): Colony (Patrick Marks); Close-up (Graham Giles)

Gymnadenia borealis (former G. conopsea var. borealis) (Heath Fragrant Orchid): Flower spike (Bill Temple); Flower spike (pale form) (Patrick Marks)

Gymnadenia conopsea (Fragrant Orchid): Flower spikes (Stan Jordan); var. alba Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Bi-coloured form (Alan Gendle)

Gymnadenia densiflora (former G. conopsea var. densiflora) (Marsh Fragrant Orchid): Flower spike (Tony Hughes)

Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid): Location (Tony Hughes), Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes); Pseudobulbs (Tony Hughes)

Herminium monorchis (Musk Orchid): Group (Mike Gasson); Flower spike (Tony Hughes)

Himantoglossum hircinum (Lizard Orchid): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Flower spike (Stan Jordan); Flower bud (Tony Hughes)

Liparis loeselii (Narrow-leaved Fen Orchid): Whole plant (Graham Giles); ssp. ovata Whole plant (Tony Hughes);  Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Listera cordata see Neottia cordata

Listera ovata see Neottia ovata

Neotinea maculata (Dense flowered or 'Burren' Orchid): Whole plant (Graham Giles); Flower spike (Graham Giles)

Neotinea (Orchis) ustulata  (Burnt-tip Orchid): Flower spikes (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes); var. albiflora Group of plants (Barry Tattersall); Whole plant (Graham Giles); Flower spike (Graham Giles)

Neottia (Listera) cordata  (Lesser Twayblade): Whole plant (Patrick Marks); Flower spike (red form, Steve Davidson): Flower spike (green form, Graham Giles)

Neottia nidus-avis (Bird's-nest Orchid): Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Bill Temple); var. pallida: Flower spike (Barry Tattersall)

Neottia (Listera) ovata  (Twayblade): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Flower spike (Bill Temple); Close-up (Patrick Marks); Close-up (dark form) (Patrick Marks); Form with extra leaf (John Spencer)

Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid): Flower spike (Bill Temple); Close-up (Tony Hughes); Bee/Wasp anomaly (Colin Clay); var. belgaricum (Alan Gendle); var. bicolor (Peter Sheasby); var. bicolor (Tony Hughes); var. bicolor (Richard Manuel); var. chlorantha  Flower spike (Graham Giles); Close-up (Graham Giles); var. flavescens (Graham Giles); var. freibergensis (Tony Hughes); var. trollii  (Bill Temple); var. fulvofusca (Peter Revell)

Ophrys fuciflora / Ophrys holoserica (Late Spider Orchid): Whole plant (Duncan McCree); Close-up (Bill Temple)

Ophrys insectifera (Fly Orchid): Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes); yellow form (Graham Giles); var. ochroleuca Flower spike (Barry Tattersall); Close-up (Barry Tattersall)

Ophrys sphegodes (Early Spider Orchid): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Bill Temple)

Orchis (Aceras) anthropophora  (Man Orchid): Flower spike (Ian Rogers); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Orchis laxiflora  see Anacamptis laxiflora

Orchis mascula (Early Purple Orchid): Group of plants (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes); White variant (Kevin Joynes) Close-up (John Spencer); Red variant  (Patrick Marks):  Pink variant  (Stan Jordan) 

Orchis militaris (Military Orchid): Group (Graham Giles); Flower spike (Tony Hughes)

Orchis morio  see Anacamptis morio

Orchis purpurea (Lady Orchid): Whole plant (Ian Rogers); Flower spike (Ian Rogers); Close-up (Tony Hughes); var. alba Flower spike (Tony Hughes)

Orchis simia (Monkey Orchid): Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Orchis ustulata  see Neotinea ustulata

Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly Orchid): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly Orchid): Flower spike (Ian Rogers); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Pseudorchis albida (Small White Orchid): Whole plant (Patrick Marks); Flower spike (Graham Giles)

Serapias parviflora (Small-flowered Tongue Orchid): Whole plant (Stan Jordan); Flower spike (Stan Jordan)

Spiranthes romanzoffiana (Irish Ladies' Tresses):  Flower spike (Richard Manuel); Close-up (Steve Davidson)

Spiranthes spiralis (Autumn Ladies' Tresses): Leaves (Roger Grier); Group of plants (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)


British Orchid Hybrids

Many species of orchids are closely related to each other and occasionally manage to interbreed, producing natural hybrids. Often hybrid will have characteristics intermediate between its two parents and sometimes will be very robust ("hybrid vigour"), but identification may require inspired guesswork! Most natural hybrids are "intrageneric", meaning that both parents are members of the same genus. However, occasionally one may find an "intergeneric" (or "bigeneric") hybrid, where the parents come from different genera. Several conditions must be fulfilled for a hybrid to occur. Firstly, both parents must be in flower at the same time, and must grow sufficiently close for a pollinator to make the journey between them. Secondly, some creature must carry pollen from one parent to the other - but the culprit may not necessarily be the normal pollinator of either species. Thirdly, pollination is only likely if the chromosomes of both parents are sufficiently similar; this is probably the greatest barrier to the formation of intergeneric hybrids. It is interesting to note that the recent reclassification of orchids by Richard Bateman and colleagues has not only reduced the number of known "intergeneric" hybrids, but also provided an insight into why certain other possible hybrids do not occur.

It is intended to expand this section as more photographs become available - so all members of the Hardy Orchid Society are encouraged to contribute photographs of natural hybrids between British orchids. While it would be nice if the pictures were taken in the British Isles, we are initially happy to accept photographs taken abroad of hybrids that could occur here. The identification of the parents of all the hybrids illustrated here have been provided by the individual photographers, who retain their copyright.

 

* = latest photographs added

All pictures have been provided by HOS members, who retain the copyright to their pictures.

None of the pictures may be reproduced without the owner's permission.

Intrageneric Hybrids

Cephalanthera damasonium x Cephalanthera longifolia (White x Sword-leaved): Whole plant (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Dactylorhiza incarnata (Common Spotted x  Early Marsh Orchid): Flower spike (Les Lewis)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Dactylorhiza maculata (Common Spotted x Heath Spotted Orchid): Flower spikes & Close-up (Graham Giles & Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Common Spotted x Southern Marsh Orchid): Group of plants (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Bill Temple); Close-up (Bill Temple); Close-up (Bill Temple);

Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Dactylorhiza purpurella (Common Spotted x Northern Marsh Orchid): Whole plant  (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Graham Giles); Flower spike (Bill Temple); Flower spike (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza incarnata var. coccinea  x  Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Early Marsh Orchid (red form) x Southern Marsh Orchid): Flower spike (John Spencer)

Dactylorhiza incarnata var. pulchella x  Dactylorhiza maculata (Early Marsh Orchid (purple form) x Heath Spotted Orchid): Whole plant (Barry Tattersall);  Flower spike (Barry Tattersall)

Dactylorhiza incarnata x Dactylorhiza purpurella (Early Marsh Orchid x Northern Marsh Orchid) :Flower spike (John Spencer)

Dactylorhiza incarnata var. pulchella x Dactylorhiza purpurella (Early Marsh Orchid (purple form) x Northern Marsh Orchid): Flower spike (John Spencer)

Dactylorhiza maculata x Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Heath Spotted Orchid x Southern Marsh Orchid): Flower spike (John Spencer)

Dactylorhiza maculata x Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides ssp. lapponica  (Heath Spotted Orchid x Lapland Marsh Orchid): Flower spike  (Alan Gendle)

Dactylorhiza purpurella x Dactylorhiza maculata  (Northern Marsh Orchid x Heath Spotted Orchid): Flower spikes (Patrick Marks): Close-up (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides ssp. lapponica  x Dactylorhiza fuchsii  (Lapland Marsh Orchid x Common Spotted Orchid): Flower spike (Alan Gendle)

Dactylorhiza (Coeloglossum) viridis x Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. hebridensis (Frog x Hebridean Spotted Orchid): Whole plant (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza (Coeloglossum) viridis x Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Frog x Common Spotted Orchid): Whole plant (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (John Spencer); Flower spike (Peter Revell)

Dactylorhiza (Coeloglossum) viridis x Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. coccinea (Frog x Dune Early Marsh Orchid): Flower spike (Barry Tattersall)

Ophrys apifera x Ophrys fuciflora (Bee x Late Spider Orchid): Close-up (Bill Temple)

Ophrys apifera x Ophrys insectifera (Bee x Fly Orchid): Flower spike (Graham Giles); Close-up (Graham Giles)

Orchis (Aceras) anthropophora x Orchis simia (Man x Monkey Orchid): Whole plant  (Barry Tattersall); Flower spike (Barry Tattersall)

Orchis militaris x Orchis purpurea (Military x Lady): Whole plant (Tony Hughes); Flower spike (Tony Hughes); Close-up (Tony Hughes)

Orchis purpurea  x Orchis simia (Lady x Monkey): Flower spike (Mike Gasson); Flower spike (Bill Temple); Flower spike (Mike Gasson)

Platanthera bifolia x Platanthera chlorantha (Lesser x Greater Butterfly Orchid): Flower spike (Barry Tattersall)

 

Bigeneric Hybrids

Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Gymnadenia borealis (Common Spotted x Heath Fragrant Orchid): Flower spike (Patrick Marks); Flower spike (Patrick Marks); Flower spike (Patrick Marks); Flower spike (Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Gymnadenia conopsea (Common Spotted x Fragrant Orchid): Flower spike (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza incarnata x Gymnadenia borealis (Early Marsh x Heath Fragrant Orchid): ssp incarnata Flower spike (Patrick Marks); ssp. pulchella Flower spike (Alan Gendle)

Dactylorhiza maculata x Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Spotted x Heath Fragrant Orchid): Flower spike (Barry Tattersall & Patrick Marks)

Dactylorhiza praetermissa x Gymnadenia densiflora (Southern marsh x Marsh fragrant orchid): Flower spike (Stan Jordan)

Dactylorhiza purpurella x Gymnadenia borealis (Northern Marsh x Heath Fragrant Orchid): Flower spike (John Spencer)

Gymnadenia borealis x Pseudorchis albida (Heath Fragrant Orchid x Small White Orchid): Flower spike (Patrick Marks)


Orchid Pollination

One particularly fascinating aspect of orchids is the way so many different pollination mechanisms have evolved. Flowers with spurs generally attract insects seeking nectar, though some species may cheat the insects by failing to produce nectar. While the insect is attempting to reach the nectar, it comes into contact with pads of "super-glue" joined to the pollinia. When the insect moves on, the pollinia remain attached to it, their stalks bending so that pollen is in the correct position to make contact with the stigmatic surface of the next flower visited. 

Long spurs, as in Anacamptis pyramidalis and Platanthera species, match the long tongues of butterflies and moths, while shorter spurs of many Orchis and Dactylorhiza species are a good match for the shorter tongues of bees. The nectar-bearing cups near the base of the lips of various Epipactis species are fine for wasps. The most elaborate evolution may have occurred in orchids such as Ophrys, where the flower of each species has evolved to mimic the female of some type of insect, using scent and/or tactile means. The males are deceived into attempting to copulate with the flowers, during which the pollinia become attached to some part of the insects anatomy. 

Some Ophrys also appear to resort to self-pollination if no insect pollinators are present at the appropriate time. One of the consequences of self-pollination is that genetic mutations are passed on to all offspring of the mutant parent, thus giving rise to many stable populations, such as the "Wasp" orchid (Ophrys apifera var. trollii).

In the mid-nineteenth century Charles Darwin wrote a most detailed book about the subject entitled "The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects" (for details of a modern reprint see the Book List). One of his most famous predictions was the existence of a moth with a tongue long enough to reach the nectar in the enormously long (11" or 28 cm) spurs of  Angraecum sesquipedale - forty two years later the moth Xanthopan morganii praedicta was discovered and Darwin was vindicated.

The action photographs in this section provide excellent illustrations of the way in which different pollinators are suited to particular orchid species, and how pollinia become attached to the pollinators.

All pictures have been provided by HOS members, who retain the copyright to their pictures.

None of the pictures may be reproduced without the owner's permission.

Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid): Burnet Moth (Tony Hughes); Burnet Moths (Tony Hughes); Burnet Moth (Tony Hughes)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid): Pollinia (Tony Hughes); Bumble Bee (Bill Temple)

Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Southern Marsh Orchid): Bumble Bee (Tony Hughes)

Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine): Wasp (Tony Hughes); Wasp (Tony Hughes)

Epipactis purpurata (Violet Helleborine): Wasp (Bill Temple)

Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine): Hoverfly (Bill Temple); Hoverfly (Bill Temple);  Honey Bee  (Bill Temple);   Wasp  (Bill Temple)

Gymnadenia conopsea (Fragrant Orchid): Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Bill Temple)

Himantoglossum hircinum (Lizard Orchid):  Bee (Bill Temple); Bee (Jim Ford)

Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid): Hoverfly (Richard Manuel)

Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid): Ready to self-pollinate (Tony Hughes)

Ophrys insectifera (Fly Orchid): Wasp (Barry Tattersall)

Spiranthes spiralis (Autumn Lady's Tresses) Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bill Temple); Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bill Temple)