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Pyramid Orchid growing wild on the west coast

The Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis, is an orchid native to southwestern Eurasia, from western Europe through the Mediterranean region eastwards to Iran. In Germany, it is rare and was declared Orchid of the Year in 1990 to heighten awareness of this plant.

Charles Darwin's book Fertilisation of Orchids included an illustration of the head of a moth with its proboscis laden with several pairs of pollinia from the Pyramidal orchid, Orchis pyramidalis.

This hardy perennial plant grows to a height of 30 cm. The colour of the flower varies from pink to purple, or rarely white, and the scent is described as "foxy". The arrangement of hermaphroditic flowers in a compact pyramidal shape is very distinctive and gives the orchid its common name. The flowers are pollinated by butterflies and moths. The mechanism by which its pairs of pollinia attach themselves to an insect's proboscis was discovered by Charles Darwin and described in his book on the Fertilisation of Orchids. This orchid requires a sunny spot on diverse soils: loamy or clay, rarely on sandy soils. It can even grow on very alkaline soil.

The dried and ground tuber gives a fine white powder, called salep. This is a very nutritious sweet starchlike substance. It is used in drinks, cereals and in making bread. It is also used medicinally in diets for children and convalescents.
There are some notable varieties, which are sometimes treated as subspecies – and as they seem to be limited to certain regions, this may be correct:
• Anacamptis pyramidalis var. tanayensis Tanay Pyramidal Orchid.
Flowers darker and smaller. Fribourg and Valais cantons (Switzerland).
• Anacamptis pyramidalis var. urvilleana– Maltese Pyramidal Orchid
• Anacamptis pyramidalis var. sanguinea Western Irish Pyramidal Orchid.
Inflorescence rounder, plant smaller overall. County Galway to County Kerry (Ireland)

The variety alba can be found anywhere in the Pyramidal Orchid's range; its flowers are white.
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Comments on this photo:

Jun 08 2011 14:30 GMT julie13
Never seen one of these before, beautiful shot. Julie
Jun 08 2011 14:35 GMT Petermosull
Thanks Julie, they are very common in coastal areas of Wales, esp. on Angelsea & in Devon & Cornwall & this is the best time of the year to see them
Jun 08 2011 14:41 GMT sini
A beauty!:)
Jun 08 2011 14:46 GMT petzka
Beautiful image!!!!!
Jun 08 2011 14:47 GMT Pea2007
A beautiful image ,I saw many wild orchids at the weekend here in Switzerland.
Jun 08 2011 15:14 GMT superJoan
Peter...talk about coincedence..we were down in Devon a couple of weeks ago and there in a garden centre were these lovely Pyramid Orchids growing, unfortunately for us they didn't have any plants for sale nor any seeds....but I did take a lovely photograph of them growing, will post it next to fotothing.....I am sure it is the same one as yours.....beautiful....
Jun 08 2011 15:44 GMT mbz
very beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 08 2011 16:37 GMT Annamaria
This is a real beauty, peter!! Haven't seen one in Holland!! ;-)
Jun 08 2011 16:41 GMT saffi9
superb detail peter
Jun 08 2011 18:42 GMT raf1110
great shoot...nice colors
Jun 08 2011 19:16 GMT georg1951
excellent close up capture,pretty colors
Jun 08 2011 20:02 GMT Adamus
Wonderful flower.
Jun 09 2011 01:38 GMT Studio88
WOW - Great Shot! Peter ;-)