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Orchis mascula (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Asparagales

Familia: Orchidaceae
Subfamilia: Orchidoideae
Tribus: Orchideae
Subtribus: Orchidinae
Genus: Orchis
Subgenus: Orchis subg. Masculae
Sectio: Orchis sect. Masculae
Species: Orchis mascula
Subspecies: (5)
O. mascula. subsp. ichnusae – O. mascula. subsp. laxifloriformis – O. mascula. subsp. mascula – O. mascula. subsp. scopulorum – O. mascula. subsp. speciosa

Orchis mascula (L.) L., Fl. Suec., ed. 2: 310 (1755)

Orchis morio var. mascula L., Sp. Pl.: 224 (1753)
Orchis rectiflorus St.-Lag., Ann. Soc. Bot. Lyon 11(Mém.): 43 (1883 publ. 1884), nom. superfl.
Androrchis mascula (L.) D.Tyteca & E.Klein, J. Eur. Orch. 40: 544 (2008)


Orchis mascula Alsch., Fl. Jadr.: 210 (1832), nom. illeg. - vide: Orchis provincialis Balb. ex Lam. & DC., Syn. Pl. Fl. Gall.: 169. (1806)

Native distribution areas:

Northern Europe
Denmark, Finland, Føroyar, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden.
Middle Europe
Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland.
Southwestern Europe
Baleares, Corse, France, Portugal, Sardegna, Spain.
Southeastern Europe
Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Sicilia, Turkey-in-Europe, Yugoslavia.
Eastern Europe
Belarus, Baltic States, Krym, Central European Russia, East European Russia, South European Russia, Ukraine.
Northern Africa
Algeria, Morocco.
Canary Islands, Madeira.
North Caucasus, Transcaucasus.
Western Asia
East Aegean Islands, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon-Syria, Turkey.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Kretzschmar, H., Eccarius, W. & Dietrich, H. 2007. Die Orchideengattungen Anacamptis, Orchis, Neotinea. EchinoMedia-Verlag, Bürgel. Table of contents. ISBN 978-3937-10711-0. Reference page.
Linnaeus, C. 1755. Flora suecica 310.
Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J., Chase, M.W. & Rasmussen, F.N. (eds.) 2001. Genera Orchidacearum Volume 2: Orchidoideae (Part one); page 333 ff., Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850710-0


Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2022. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Orchis mascula. Accessed: 2022 Apr 25.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Orchis mascula in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Apr 25. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Orchis mascula in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Apr 25. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2022. Orchis mascula. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2022. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Apr 25. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Orchis mascula. Published online. Accessed: 25 Apr 2022. 2022. Orchis mascula. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 25 Apr 2022.

Vernacular names

العربية: سحلب ذكري
azərbaycanca: Erkək səhləb
български: Заобленолистен салеп
català: Orquídia mascle
corsu: Orchidea maschili
čeština: Vstavač mužský
Cymraeg: Tegeirian coch y gwanwyn
dansk: Tyndakset Gøgeurt
Deutsch: Männliches Knabenkraut
Ελληνικά: Όρχις η άρρην
English: Early Purple Orchid
español: Campanos
eesti: Jumalakäpp
suomi: Miehenkämmekkä
français: Orchis mâle
hornjoserbsce: Muska pihawka
magyar: Füles kosbor
lietuvių: Vyriškoji gegužraibė
latviešu: Vīru dzegužpuķe
norsk bokmål: Vårmarihånd
Nederlands: Mannetjesorchis
polski: Storczyk męski
português: Satirião-macho
русский: Ятрышник мужской
slovenčina: Vstavač mužský
slovenščina: Stasita kukavica
српски / srpski: Салеп
svenska: Sankt Pers nycklar
Türkçe: Er salebi
українська: Зозулинець чоловічий

Orchis mascula, the early-purple orchid,[1] early spring orchis, is a species of flowering plant in the orchid family, Orchidaceae.


Orchis mascula is a perennial herbaceous plant with stems up to 50–60 centimetres (20–24 in) high, green at the base and purple on the apex. The root system consists of two tubers, rounded or ellipsoid. The leaves, grouped at the base of the stem, are oblong-lanceolate, pale green, sometimes with brownish-purple speckles. The inflorescence is 7.5–12.5 centimetres (3–5 in) long and it is composed of 6 to 20 flowers gathered in dense cylindrical spikes. The flower size is about 2.5 centimetres (1 in) and the color varies from pinkish-purple to purple.[2]: 878  The lateral sepals are ovate-lanceolate and erect, the median one, together with the petals, is smaller and cover the gynostegium. The labellum is three-lobed and convex, with crenulated margins and the basal part clearer and dotted with purple-brown spots. The spur is cylindrical or clavate, horizontal or ascending. The gynostegium is short, with reddish-green anthers. It blooms from April to June.
Close-up of a flower
Distinctive spotted foliage in some specimens

This orchid is devoid of nectar and attracts pollinating insects (bees and wasps of the genera Apis, Bombus, Eucera, Andrena, Psithyrus and Xylocopa, and sometimes beetles) with the appearance of its flower which mimics other species.

Orchids in the genus Orchis form mycorrhizal partnerships mainly with fungi in the family Tulasnellaceae.[3] Orchis mascula has been suggested to have only one mycorrhizal partner, in the Tulasnellaceae.[4]
Distribution and habitat

The species is widespread across Europe, from Portugal to the Caucasus (Ireland, Great Britain, The Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, most of Russia), in northwest Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco) and in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) up to Iran.[5] (Codes)[6]

It grows in a variety of habitats, from meadows to mountain pastures and woods, in full sun or shady areas, from sea level to 2,500 metres (8,000 ft) altitude.

The specific epithet is derived from the Latin masculus, meaning "male" or "virile"; this could refer to the robust aspect of this species, or to the shape of the two tubers, which resemble testicles.

As of June 2014, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families recognizes five subspecies:[7]

Orchis mascula subsp. ichnusae Corrias
Orchis mascula subsp. laxifloriformis Rivas Goday & B.Rodr. (including O. langei, O. mascula subsp. hispanica)
Orchis mascula subsp. mascula (including O. mascula subsp. pinetorum)
Orchis mascula subsp. scopulorum (Summerh.) H.Sund. ex H.Kretzschmar, Eccarius & H.Dietr.
Orchis mascula subsp. speciosa (Mutel) Hegi


Orchidactyla kromayeri (M.Schulze) Borsos [es] & Soó 1966
Orchidactyla pentecostalis (Wettst. & Sennholz) Borsos & Soó 1966
Orchidactyla speciosissima (Wettst. & Sennholz) Borsos & Soó 1966
Orchis brevicornis var. fallax De Not. 1844
Orchis cochleata Fleischm. & M.Schulze 1902
Orchis compressiflora Stokes 1812
Orchis fallax (De Not.) Willk. in Willk. & J.M.C.Lange 1861
Orchis glaucophylla A.Kern. 1864
Orchis kromayeri M.Schulze 1904
Orchis mascula f. longifolia Landwehr 1977
Orchis mascula subsp. occidentalis O.Schwarz 1949
Orchis mascula subsp. signifera (Vest) Soó 1927
Orchis mascula subsp. tenera (Landwehr) Del Prete [es] 1999
Orchis mascula var. acutiflora W.D.J.Koch 1837
Orchis mascula var. bicolor Balayer 1986
Orchis mascula var. fallax E.G.Camus 1889
Orchis mascula var. hostii Patze, E.Mey. & Elkan [es] 1848
Orchis mascula var. maritzii J.A.Guim. 1887
Orchis mascula var. monsignatica Font Quer 1928
Orchis mascula var. obtusiflora W.D.J.Koch 1837
Orchis mascula var. speciosa Mutel 1836
Orchis mascula var. tenera Landwehr 1977
Orchis monsignatica (Font Quer) Rivas Goday 1941
Orchis morio f. mascula L. 1753
Orchis morio var. mascula L. 1753 (basionym)
Orchis obtusa Schur 1866
Orchis obtusiflora Schur 1853
Orchis olivetorum Gren. ex Nyman 1882
Orchis ovalis F.W.Schmidt 1791
Orchis parreissii C.Presl 1845
Orchis patens var. fallax (De Not.) Rchb.f. 1851
Orchis pentecostalis Wettst. & Sennholz 1889
Orchis signifera Vest 1824
Orchis speciosa Host 1831
Orchis speciosissima Wettst. & Sennholz 1889
Orchis stabiana Tenore 1833
Orchis tenera (Landwehr) Kreutz 1991
Orchis untchji M.Schulze 1907
Orchis vernalis Salisbury 1796
Orchis wanjkovii E.Wulff 1930
Orchis wilmsii K.Richt. 1890[8]

Cultivation and uses

A flour called salep or sachlav is made of the ground tubers of this or some other species of orchids. It contains a nutritious starch-like polysaccharide called glucomannan. In some magical traditions, its root is called Adam and Eve Root. It is said that witches used tubers of this orchid in love potions.
Culture and symbolism

It is referred to as "long purple" by Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Gertrude: "There with fantastic garlands did she come Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, that liberal shepherds give a grosser name, but our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them;".[9] Among other common names it has been called 'Gethsemane' (Foley and Clarke 2005, Orchids of the British Isles).

BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
Stace, C. A. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521707725.
Molecular Ecology - Low specificity and nested subset structure characterize mycorrhizal associations in five closely related species of the genus Orchis
Journal of Ecology - Orchid coexistence and mycorrhizal associations
"World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
"World Checklist of Selected Plant Families TDWG Geocodes" (PDF).
"Search for Orchis mascula", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2014-06-29
Synonyms in The Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia

Shakespeare, William (2003-04-21). Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ISBN 9780521532525.

Pierre Delforge - Orchids of Europe, North Africa And the Middle East - 2006, Timber Press
Pignatti S. - Flora d'Italia (3 voll.) - Edagricole – 1982, Vol. III
Tutin, T.G. et al. - Flora Europaea, second edition - 1993

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