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Man Orchid
Orchis anthropophora

The Man Orchid is one of our rarest orchids and is classified as endangered under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Its presence is now confined to a few protected reserves and sites around England, and the numbers are still in decline. It is particularly vulnerable to agricultural pollution and runoff but scrub encroachment is also a problem. As its name suggests the flowers of Orchis anthropophora resemble a tiny hooded figure making it relatively easy to identify although the drab greenish colour makes it difficult to spot. The flowers are often tinged with dark brownish-red and less often with yellow. It is sometimes confused with the Frog Orchid Dactylorhiza viridis (which is a much smaller plant) and Common Twayblade Neottia ovata (easily distinguished by the two large oval basal leaves). The Man Orchid grows in a number of habitats including sand dunes, roadside verges and downland, but all are chalk-based. Orchis anthropophora flowers from late April to the end of June. The Man Orchid is still widespread in southern and western European countries and does particularly well in the Mediterranean region.

Distribution Map Key Features
distribution map

Records for the Man 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: 20-45cm but can reach 60cm.
Leaves: dull green and narrow with a blue tinge. Obviously veined and keeled. There are 3-4 basal leaves some of which lie flat. 2-3 more pointed leaves sheathing the stem which is pale green.
Bracts: pale green and lanceolate.
Flowers: the flowerhead is narrow and pointed and the flowers are green or yellow often with dark red margins. The sepals and petals form a distinctly rounded hood above the lip which is deeply lobed to form the 'limbs' of the small figure. The flowers are reported to have a faintly unpleasant smell.

Image Gallery for Man Orchid Orchis anthropophora

Pollination Taxonomy & Hybrids

Insect pollination by ants and hoverflies may occur, but most reproduction is thought to be vegetative via the production of additional tubers.

There are no subspecies. Orchis anthropophora var. flavescens lacks red pigments and has a green hood and yellow lip. Hybrids with Monkey, Lady and Military orchids are common in parts of the plant's European range but rare in England. Orchis x bergonii, the hybrid with the Monkey Orchid Orchis simia, has been reported but may have been the result of a mistake with hand pollination. Orchis x meilsheimeri, the hybrid with the Lady Orchid, was found in Kent in 1998 when two plants were seen.

Articles about Man Orchid in JHOS