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Loose-flowered Orchid
Anacamptis laxiflora

In the UK this stately orchid, which can grow up to 60cm tall, is now confined to the Channel Islands. The Loose-flowered Orchid is still widespread throughout the Mediterranean region, but everywhere it occurs it is under serious threat due to habitat loss. Loose-flowered Orchids grow in damp meadows and marshy fields, many of which have now been drained for agricultural purposes. The flowers of the Early Purple Orchid Anacamptis morio are superficially similar to those of Anacamptis laxiflora but there are a number of key features that readily separate the two. The first is the sheer size of the Loose-flowered Orchid; also, rather than having a compact flowerhead, the flowers of Anacamptis laxiflora are loosely arranged along a considerable part of the stem. The Loose-flowered Orchid has longish narrow unspotted leaves which are also well-spaced along the stem. This orchid flowers from early May to late June, but the peak flowering is usually at the end of May.

Distribution Map Key Features
distribution map

Records for the Loose-flowered Orchid from BSBI are shown on the map with most recent in front. (Hover the mouse over the small map to expand it.)

CLICK HERE to visit the BSBI website page for updated data and maps with separated data for individual record periods

Plant: 15-60cm, stem flushed reddish-purple towards the top and has 2-4 brown scales at the base.
Leaves: The leaves appear in the autumn and persist through the winter. They number 3-8, are keeled, strap-like and pointed at the tip. The upper leaves are smaller and bract-like.
Bracts: green to purple, strap-shaped and pointed at the tip.
Flowers: The flowers are large, reddish purple and have a broad white patch in the centre of the lip with occasional pale spots or markings. The upper sepal combines with the two smaller petals to form a hood over the top of the flower. The spur is long and slender but broadens towards the tip.

Image Gallery for Loose-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora

Pollination Taxonomy & Hybrids

No information is currently available on the pollination and reproduction of this species.

The Loose-flowered Orchid belonged, until recently, to the genus Orchis, but recent genetic studies have revealed that it is more closely related to the Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis and the Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morioand so it has now joined the genus Anacamptis.

Hybrids with Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio (Anacamptis x alata) have been found in Guernsey and Jersey.

Articles about Lax-flowered Orchid in JHOS