Central and southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, W Asia, N Africa.
A variable plant of about 15 - 40cm height with a dense flower spike, the flowers variously coloured and with a beak-like hood. The lip is tri-lobed with variable markings. Found in dry to damp soils in meadows, garigue and open woodland. Several subspecies have been described but they intergrade imperceptibly, although one of these (Orchis sancta) is perhaps more distinctive and deserves separation as a species. The flower scent varies from an unpleasant 'bed-bug' odour to a sweet scent.
Photographs: Cyprus, 1999.
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