Conservation Code


The HARDY ORCHID SOCIETY recommends that its members should NOT buy, sell or exhibit orchids that have been collected from the wild.


The HARDY ORCHID SOCIETY Journal will not accept any articles or advertisements from sources convicted of illeglly digging orchids.


Members of the HARDY ORCHID SOCIETY may not show or sell plants removed from the wild under the auspices of the Society.


The HARDY ORCHID SOCIETY will not accept membership applications or membership renewals from persons convicted of illegally digging orchids.


Orchids growing in the wild should not be rescued or relocated without the appropriate permission (common, non-Schedule 8 (see below), orchids normally require only the permission of the landowners at source and destination). If in doubt ask the Conservation Officer, who may be able to assist or advise on the best time and method for relocation.


Orchid seed should not be collected in the UK without the appropriate permission (common, non-Schedule 8 (see below), orchids normally require only the permission of the landowner).

Conservation Policy

1.           The HOS appoints a Conservation Officer whose principal role is to inform and advise members and external bodies on orchid conservation issues and to co-ordinate the practical conservation activities of the society.

2.       In order to reduce the pressure on populations of wild orchids and to safeguard the future of rare and endangered species, the HOS encourages the propagation of hardy orchids from legitimately acquired material and the sale of surplus legally propagated plants.

3.           Members should be aware that it is an offence to collect wild orchid seed without appropriate permission. In most of the UK the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 applies (in Scotland the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 takes precedence). For species listed in Schedule 8 (see below) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, permission to collect seed can be given only by Natural England (or the equivalent bodies for Scotland and Wales); for all other species, only the landowner’s permission must be obtained. In order to be prepared for possible changes in legislation it may be wise to ensure that documentation exists to prove that the collection of seed or other material was legal.

4.           The HOS is keen that orchids threatened by change of land use should be relocated to suitable safe locations.  Members are encouraged to inform the Conservation Officer whenever native orchid sites are known to be under threat. Where threats cannot be averted, the Conservation Officer (or nominated deputy) will normally seek authority to relocate the threatened plants. Members must never attempt to rescue or relocate wild orchids without first obtaining the appropriate permissions and, if possible, consulting the HOS Conservation Officer; the latter is essential if there is a desire to use the HOS name.

5.           The HOS supports the re-introduction of native orchid species to appropriate wild sites, and has undertaken several such projects. Members should consult the Conservation Officer before attempting any re-introduction project.

6.           The HOS opposes all activities that may contravene national or international law relating to plants. The HOS recommends that its members should NOT buy, sell or exhibit orchids that have been collected from the wild. The HOS will not allow anyone convicted of offences relating to wild plants to join the Society or to renew their subscription if they are already a member.

7.       Seed donated to the seed bank should be sent either with a copy of the document permitting collection of the seed or with a clear statement that the seed has been taken from plants growing on the sender’s property.

Examples of Conservation Activities

1) Our first project, many years ago, was to raise common native orchids for introduction into a protected area in Dudley Zoo. This gave very encouraging results.

2) Several HOS members were 'growing on' Cypripedium calceolus seedlings, in collaboration with the Sainsbury Orchid Project at Kew, the majority of which were destined for re-introduction to northern locations where they once flourished.

3) Relocation of threatened orchids - thousands of plants have been relocated from several sites, and a great deal of knowledge has been accumulated as a result.

4) Raising species from seed - Metlesic’s barlia (Himantoglossum metlesicsianum) with the GOC (Canary Islands Orchid Lovers Group) (under permit from the Cabinet of the Government of the Canary Islands).

5) Raising species from seed - Military orchids (Orchis militaris) with BBOWT (under an English Nature/Natural England permit). These were planted out in 2020.

6) Raising species from seed - Man orchid (Orchis anthropophora) with Warwickshire WT (under Natural England permit). These were planted out  in 2020.

7) Raising species from seed - Green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) for Northumberland WT for re-introduction to a former habitat. Expected to be planted out in July 2022.

All the seed raising projects are subject to stringent conditions and are only undertaken by those volunteers who have considerable experience in successfully raising orchids from seed.

Management of Roadside Verges for the Benefit of Orchids

In the UK, much of our unimproved grassland including lowland meadows and pasture has been lost and roadside verges now form nearly half of the remaining area. These include significant populations of orchids, including Pyramidal Orchids, Bee Orchids and both Northern and Southern Marsh-orchids.

For background information and advice on the management of roadside verges for the benefit of orchids, including specific advice on when to mow verges containing different orchid species see: Verge Maintenance and Orchids

Schedule 8 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act

The Act covers the following orchids, which require permits from Natural England (or the equivalent bodies for Scotland and Wales) for the collection of seed or samples. Permission to collect seed or samples from Schedule 8 species is unlikely to be given to an individual.

Cephalanthera rubra

Red Helleborine

Cypripedium calceolus

Lady's Slipper Orchid

Dactylorhiza lapponica 

Lapland Marsh Orchid  (actually a form of D. traunsteinerioides)

Epipactis youngiana  

Young's Helleborine (actually a form of E. helleborine)

Epipogium aphyllum

Ghost Orchid

Himantoglossum hircinum 

Lizard Orchid

Liparis loeselii 

Fen Orchid

Ophrys fuciflora     

Late Spider Orchid

Ophrys sphegodes 

Early Spider Orchid

Orchis militaris

Military Orchid

Orchis simia

Monkey Orchid


Red List of Threatened Orchids in Great Britain (

Epipogium aphyllum Ghost Orchid Extinct
Spiranthes aestivalis Summer Lady's Tresses Extinct
Cephalanthera rubra Red Helleborine Critically endangered
Cypripedium calceolus Lady's Slipper Orchid Critically endangered
Epipactis sancta Lindisfarne Helleborine Endangered
Liparis loeselii Fen Orchid Endangered
Neotinea ustulata Burnt Orchid Endangered
Orchis anthropophora Man Orchid Endangered
Orchis purpurea Lady Orchid Endangered
Cephalanthera damasonium White Helleborine Vulnerable
Cephalanthera longifolia Sword-leaved Helleborine Vulnerable
Corallorhiza trifida Coralroot Orchid Vulnerable
Dactylorhiza ebudensis Hebridean Marsh Orchid Vulnerable
Dactylorhiza viridis Frog Orchid Vulnerable
Herminium monorchis Musk Orchid Vulnerable
Ophrys fuciflora Late Spider Orchid Vulnerable
Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid Vulnerable
Orchis militaris Military Orchid Vulnerable
Orchis simia Monkey Orchid Vulnerable
Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid Vulnerable
Pseudorchis albida Small White Orchid Vulnerable
Anacamptis  (Orchis) morio Green Winged Orchid Near Threatened
Himantoglossum hircinum Lizard Orchid Near Threatened
Platanthera chlorantha Greater Butterfly Orchid Near Threatened
Spiranthes spiralis Autumn Lady's Tresses Near Threatened