Two Orchids in flower in June :- The Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha is found throughout Britain on grassy slopes and woods. It is fragrant at night and pollinated by night-flying moths. The Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea is pollinated by butterflies and moths, attracted by its strong scent. It is found throughout Britain on grassland, especially on chalk or limestone and across northern Europe and western Asia. 

Greater Butterfly Orchid

Greater Butterfly Orchid
Greater Butterfly Orchid spurs

The orchid has a very long (26mm) slightly-curved spur at the back. The plant is up to 60cm tall and has 10 to 30 flowers on a spiked inflorescence. It produces nectar which is stored in the long spur.

Greater Butterfly Orchid labellum

The orchid has a  short (16mm) strap-shaped labellum at the front. This is a close-up of the labellum and its entrance. Pollinia are white initially but turn brown with age as shown here. The  pollinia are located either side of the spur entrance and stick to the large eyes on the side of the moth’s head, not to its proboscis.

Fragrant Orchid

Fragrant Orchid

 The plant is 40 cm tall with a 10cm spike of up to 50 flowers.

Fragrant Orchid spurs

The long (13mm) spurs are shown in this photo. Floral scent emission timing (day or night) may vary depending on the type of pollinator targeted. The orchid’s long spur is partly filled with nectar but only an insect with a long proboscis, such as the Hummingbird Hawk Moth or the Painted Lady can reach it. As the insect tries to reach the nectar, the pollinia are attached to its proboscis. 

Fragrant Orchid labellum

The labellum is 3-lobed with 2 ‘petals’ forming a hood over the column. The pollinia can just be seen in this photo and two stigmatic lobes are on either side of them at the entrance to the spur.