Anacamptis pyramidalis

Anacamptis pyramidalis, the pyramidal orchid,[1] is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the genus Anacamptis of the family Orchidaceae. The scientific name Anacamptis derives from Greek ανακάμτειν 'anakamptein' meaning 'bend forward', while the Latin name pyramidalis refers to the pyramidal form of the inflorescence.

Anacamptis pyramidalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Genus: Anacamptis
A. pyramidalis
Binomial name
Anacamptis pyramidalis
  • Anacamptis condensata Koch
  • Orchis appendiculata Stokes
  • Orchis bicornis Gilib.
  • Orchis condensata Desf.


Fertilisation of Orchids figure 4
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 Orchis pyramidalis

This hardy plant reaches on average 10–25 centimetres (3.9–9.8 in) of height, with a maximum of 60 centimetres (24 in). The stem is erect and unbranched. The basal leaves are linear-lanceolate with parallel venation, up to 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long, the cauline ones are shorter and barely visible on the stem. The arrangement of hermaphroditic flowers in a compact pyramidal shape is very distinctive and gives the orchid its common name. The colour of the flower varies from pink to purple, or rarely white, and the scent is described as "foxy". The flowers have six tepals, being three small sepals and three petals. Two small petals are on the sides, while the third and lower (labellum) is large and trilobate. At the back of the flower there is a tubular spur of about 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) long, while the labellum bears two lateral small flaps. The flowering period extends from April through July.

Habitat and Distribution

Anacamptis pyramidalis requires a sunny spot on diverse soils: loamy or clay. It can even grow on very alkaline soil. It can be found on meadows, in grassland, sand dunes, maquis as well as dry and well exposed slopes, to an altitude of 0–1,600 metres (0–5,249 ft) above sea level.[2][3]

In the UK, Anacamptis pyramidalis is one of the most successful orchid species on roadside verges, and colonises other disturbed habitats like airfields, quarries and reservoirs.[4]

This orchid is 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. This orchid is especially common on the Isle of Wight in the South of England, and was designated the county plant in 2008. On the Isle of Wight, it favours growth in chalky or sandstone-rich soil, and thus can easily be found on the Downland and cliffs to the west and south of the island.


The flowers are pollinated by butterflies and moths. To ensure the fertilization, their morphology is well adapted to the proboscis of Lepidoptera, especially Euphydryas, Melanargia, Melitaea, Pieris and Zygaena species. 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.[5]

Anacamptis pyramidalis has been suggested to form mycorrhizal relationships with Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Papulaspora species.[6][7]


Anacamptis pyramidalis 3
Inflorescences of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Orchidaceae - Anacamptis pyramidalis-4
Plants of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Orchidaceae - Anacamptis pyramidalis-2
Inflorescences of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Orchidaceae - Anacamptis pyramidalis-3
Close-up on inflorescence of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Orchidaceae - Anacamptis pyramidalis-5
Close-up on a flower of Anacamptis pyramidalis
Orchidaceae - Anacamptis pyramidalis
Leaf of Anacamptis pyramidalis


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 (Chenevard) Soó in Keller – Tanay Pyramidal Orchid - Flowers darker and smaller. Fribourg and Valais cantons (Switzerland).
  • Anacamptis pyramidalis var. urvilleana (Sommier & Caruana Gatto) Schlechter – Maltese Pyramidal Orchid, an endemic orchid from Malta with smaller and paler flowers flowering 4–6 weeks before Anacamptis pyramidalis.[8]
  • Anacamptis pyramidalis var. sanguinea (Druce) Kreutz – 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.

Medicinal uses

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.


The pyramidal orchid was voted the County flower of the Isle of Wight in 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife.[9]


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2014-10-23. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ Pakistan Journal of Botany - Studies on the morphology, anatomy and ecology of Anacamptis pyramidalis (L.) in Turkey
  3. ^ Plants for a Future - Anacamptis pyramidalis
  4. ^ Plant Life - Pyramidal Orchid
  5. ^ Darwin 1862, pp. 20–24, 37
  6. ^ Applied ecology and environmental research - In Vitro Symbiotic Germination Potentials of Some Anacamptis, Dactylorhiza, Orchis and Ophrys Terrestrial Orchid Species
  7. ^ Turkish Journal of Botany - Diversity of endophytic fungi from various Aegean and Mediterranean orchids (saleps)
  8. ^ Mifsud, Stephen (2016). "Taxonomic notes on Anacamptis pyramidalis var. urvilleana (Orchidaceae), a good endemic orchid from Malta". Journal Europäischer Orchideen. 48 (1): 19–28.
  9. ^ Plantlife website County Flowers page Archived 2015-04-30 at the Wayback Machine

External links

A. pyramidalis

A. pyramidalis may refer to:

Actinostrobus pyramidalis, the swamp cypress, a coniferous tree species endemic to southwestern Western Australia

Aechmea pyramidalis, a plant species native to Ecuador

Ajuga pyramidalis, a flowering plant species native to Europe

Anacamptis pyramidalis, the pyramidal orchid, a plant species native to southwestern Eurasia

Aspella pyramidalis, a sea snail species


Anacamptis is a genus from the orchid family (Orchidaceae); it is often abbreviated as Ant in horticulture. This genus was established by Louis Claude Richard in 1817; the type species is the pyramidal orchid (A. pyramidalis) and it nowadays contains about one-third of the species placed in the "wastebin genus" Orchis before this was split up at the end of the 20th century, among them many that are of hybrid origin. The genus' scientific name is derived from the Greek word anakamptein, meaning "to bend backwards".

These terrestrial orchids occur on grasslands, limestone or chalk deposits, or on dunes in Eurasia, from the Mediterranean region to Central Asia.

Anacamptis morio

Anacamptis morio, the green-winged orchid or green-veined orchid (synonym Orchis morio), is a flowering plant of the orchid family, Orchidaceae. It usually has purple flowers, and is found in Europe and the Middle East.

Bowerchalke Downs

Bowerchalke Downs (grid reference SU004218) (also known as Woodminton, Marleycombe Down and Knowle Down), is a 128.6 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, notified in 1971. The downs encompass the entire southern outlook of the village of Bowerchalke in the Salisbury district of Wiltshire, England, and are adjacent to both the Hampshire and Dorset county boundaries. The Bowerchalke Downs are located within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are part of the Southern England Chalk Formation.

Dabble Bank

Dabble Bank is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Easington district of County Durham, England. It lies about 1 km west of the village of Haswell and about 9 km east of the city of Durham.

The site is important for its communities of nationally scarce grassland on Magnesian Limestone and in particular for its unusual location, in a small valley cut into the limestone plateau.A feature of the site is grassland characterised by downy oat-grass, Avenula pubescens, this being a vegetation type which nationally has a scattered distribution on lowland limestones and which is rare in County Durham. Among the species found is the pyramidal orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis, which is rare in the county.

Darwell Wood

Darwell Wood is a 37.5-hectare (93-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north-west of Battle in East Sussex.

Denge Wood

Denge Wood is a wood located 8 miles southwest of Canterbury in Kent, England. The wood is owned by the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust. Part of the wood is also privately owned. Much of Denge Wood is classified as ancient semi-natural woodland suggesting it has been in existence since at least 1600AD and probably longer.

Hanna Margońska

Hanna Bogna Margońska, born 1968 (fl. 1998) is a Polish botanist known for her work on orchids.

Dr. Hanna Margońska is a botanical researcher and faculty member at Gdansk University, Department of Plant Taxonomy and Conservation.

Horns Kungsgård

Horns Kungsgård ("Horn's crown demesne") is a nature preserve in the northern part of Öland, Sweden. It was founded as a model farm by Gustav Vasa in the 1550s. It was incorporated in 1971 and expanded in 2001, and became one of the protected areas of the Natura 2000 network.

Jardin botanique du col de Saverne

The Jardin botanique du col de Saverne (2.5 hectares), also known as the Jardin botanique de Saverne, is a botanical garden and arboretum located along the Col de Saverne near Saverne, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France. It is open on weekends, and daily in the warmer months; an admission fee is charged.

The garden was established in 1931 by naturalists including botanist Emile Walter (1873-1953). Since 1965 it has been jointly managed by the Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, the town of Saverne, and the garden association; in 2003 the Région Alsace also became a partner.

The garden is located on the Saverne Pass hillside at an altitude of 335 meters, and organized into sectors by plant classification. It describes its indigenous orchid section as the largest in France, with about 20 species; the garden also contains an excellent collection of ferns, as well as alpine plants and a peat bog for carnivorous plants. The arboretum occupies one third of the garden area, and contains species from North America, Europe, and Asia.

The garden's orchid collections include Aceras anthropophorum, Anacamptis pyramidalis, Bletilla striata, Cypripedium calceolus, Cypripedium formosanum, Dactylorhiza maculata, Gymnadenia conopsea, Himantoglossum hircinum, Orchis militaris, Orchis morio, and Orchis simia. Fern collections include Adiantum pedatum, Asplenium scolopendrium, Athyrium filix-femina, Blechnum spicant, Dryopteris affinis, Gymnocarpium robertianum, Matteuccia struthiopteris, Phegopteris connectilis, Phyllitis scolopendrium, and Woodsia obtusa. Other specimens of interest include Ononis natrix, Pleioblastus nagashima, Saruma henryi, Shibataea kumasasa, and Sinowilsonia henryi.

Its arboretum contains a range of species including Abies cephalonica, Abies cilicica, Acer capillipes, Amelanchier lamarckii, Cladrastis sinensis, Crataegus mollis, Eryngium giganteum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Malus sieversii, Photinia davidiana, Picea asperata, Picea omorika, Pinus jeffreyi, Pinus sylvestris, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Sorbus aria, and Sorbus reducta.

List of the orchids of Ireland

This is an annotated list of the orchids found in Ireland.

Martins' Meadows

Monewden Meadows is a 3.7 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest south-west of Monewden in Suffolk. It is a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, and it is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust under the name Martins' Meadows.The site consists of three unimproved fields described as a "species-rich lowland meadow" classified as type MG5. It is described as the best remaining area of clay or neutral lowland meadow remaining in Suffolk. Floral species include snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), early purple orchid (Orchis mascula), green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio), pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), common twayblade (Listera ovata), meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale), adder's-tongue fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum), pepper saxifrage (Silaum silaus) and rim lichen (Lecanora pulicaris). Notable fauna includes great-crested newt (Triturus cristatus) and barn owl (Tyto alba).

There is access from the road between Monewden and Clopton.

Noar Hill

Noar Hill, near Selborne in East Hampshire, is best known for its nature reserve.

Orchid of the Year

The Orchid of the Year is a yearly honor given since 1989 to an orchid species native to Germany by the Arbeitskreis Heimische Orchideen (Native Orchid Research Group, AHO), a German orchid conservation federation. The choice of orchids follows the endangerment of the species or its habitat due to human pressure.

Perch SSSI

The Perch (grid reference ST480532) is a 72.1 hectare (178.2 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest close to Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills, Somerset, England. It received SSSI notification in 1990.

This site is important because it supports populations of nationally rare and scarce plants, together with grassland and woodland habitats which are nationally restricted in distribution.The site is located on the south side of the Mendip Hills occupying a position on a steep-sided ridge which runs north to south. The underlying rocks are almost entirely carboniferous limestone with a small amount of Triassic dolomitic conglomerate.The nationally rare purple gromwell (Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum) and the nationally scarce Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae) also occur. Three species of orchid occur in these grassland areas: the Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio), the pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) and the Autumn Ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis). Two nationally rare plants, the Cheddar pink (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) and the Cheddar bedstraw (Galium fleurotii) are found on this site, as are two nationally scarce species: the rock stonecrop (Sedum forsterianum) and the spring cinquefoil (Potentilla tabernaemontani).This variety of habitats ensures that a wide range of fauna occurs on the site. In total 22 species of mammal have been recorded including a strong population of dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) and five species of bat, including the Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and Lesser Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) which use the site for feeding. One small roost of lesser horseshoe bats is known. Both species of horseshoe bat are nationally rare. Thirty species of birds are known to breed within this site and at least 23 species of butterfly breed here.

Raisby Hill Grassland

Raisby Hill Grassland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in east County Durham, England. It lies just over 1 km east of the village of Coxhoe.

The site consists of a small disused quarry and the undisturbed part of Raisby Hill, as well as a small area of wetland alongside Raisby Beck. It formed part of the Raisby Hill Quarry SSSI until 1984 when it was removed and, with some expansion of the area, notified as a separate SSSI.

In the undisturbed part of Raisby Hill primary magnesian limestone grassland is the main vegetation type. Blue moor-grass, Sesleria albicans, is abundant, and there is a rich assemblage of species characteristic of calcareous soils, such as quaking grass, Briza media, meadow oat grass, Avenula pratensis, glaucous sedge, Carex flacca, and fragrant orchid, Gymnadenia conopsea.

The skeletal soils in the abandoned quarry at the southwestern end of the site support the largest population of dark-red helleborine, Epipactis atrorubens, in County Durham. Other species found here include rock rose, Helianthemum nummularium, frog orchid, Coeloglossum viride, and pyramidal orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis.

The site supports a breeding population of Durham Argus butterfly, Aricia artaxerxes salmacis, a form which is only found in the magnesian limestone areas of Durham.

Rough Bank, Miserden

Rough Bank, Miserden (grid reference SO907087) is a 9.2-hectare (23-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Gloucestershire, notified in 1986. It was purchased by the wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation in 2012.

West Woodhay Down

West Woodhay Down is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) based in Berkshire near West Woodhay. It is located within the North Wessex Downs. It is managed under an informal agreement

with the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Naturalists Trust.

Westfield Farm Chalk Bank

Westfield Farm Chalk Bank is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) based in Berkshire near Eastbury. It is located within the North Wessex Downs.


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