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Pyramidal Orchid
Anacamptis pyramidalis

The Pyramidal Orchid is one of our commonest and most widespread wild orchids and, in favoured positions, it will carpet the ground from late June to early August. The name 'pyramidal' comes from the shape of the flowerhead when the flowers first start to open from the bottom, creating a clearly defined cone shape. As more flowers open the shape changes and becomes more oval. Anacamptis pyramidals can grow quite tall - up to 75cm - and is not easily mistaken for any of the other species that appear at the same time. This orchid can grow in a wide variety of habitats but does best where there is plenty of chalk in the soil. It is tolerant of both short sward and long rank grasses. Suitable habitats include clifftops, limestone pavement areas and sand dunes. Pyramidal Orchid is also found in many other European countries.

Distribution Map Key Features
distribution map

Records for the Pyramidal 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: 20-60cm, occasionally to 75cm. Stem green and slender with a slight but distinct angular bend just beneath the flowers. There are 2-3 brown sheaths at the stem base.
Leaves: green tinged grey, keeled and strap-like in shape with a pointed tip, several sheath the stem while others arch outwards.
Bracts: at the top of the stem the leaves become much smaller and more bract-like.
Flowers: the flowerhead is very dense and can carry up to 100 separate flowers. They are normally various shades of pink, but white forms occur and are called var. albiflora. Other variations and varieties can also be found and include: var. sanguinea which is found in the Hebrides and northern Ireland has deep red flowers; var. emarginata has an unlobed lip and is rather rare; var. fundayensis is taller and has a more cylindrical flowerhead and is recorded from Funday in the Hebrides but may now be extinct; and var. angustiloba has a very deeply lobed lip. There is also a resupinate form where the individual flowers are upside down.

Image Gallery for Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis

Pollination Taxonomy & Hybrids

Pyramidal Orchids are pollinated by night- and day-flying moths and butterflies which are rewarded by nectar. This orchid can also propagate vegetatively via tubers that develop at the end of short rhizomes.

Until recently the Pyramidal Orchid was the only British species in the genus Anacamptis; however, as a result of recent genetic studies, it has now been joined by the Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio and the Loose-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora.

A hybrid with Gymnadenia conopsea, Anacamptisgymnanacaptis, has been recorded in Co. Durham, Hampshire and Gloucestershire.

Articles about Pyramidal Orchid in JHOS