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Orchis militaris.
Orchis militaire.
Military orchid.

The Military Orchis is part of the genus Orchis largely amputated from many species now classified in the genera Anacamptis or Dactylorhiza. 

In each genus, one species is the lectotype (in summary, the most representative species) and the Military Orchis represents the genus Orchis. 

Orchis are bulbous orchids, usually have two which gave them their Greek name Orchis which means testicle. One of the bulbs allows the growth of the plant while the second is formed during this same period and will replace the gradually withered original bulb the following year. If we unearthed an orchid (which I proscribe of course), we would therefore find the bulb of the year more or less withered, the bulb in the making for the future season and sometimes an old bulb completely withered from the previous year. .

Orchis are fairly tall plants (20 to 60 cm), rather robust and easily spotted in meadows, wasteland or light undergrowth. The preferred terrains are generally chalky or marly and rather dry._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d

The lateral sepals and petals are joined together to form a "helmet" while the central petal (labellum) offers a fairly complex and variable shape from one species to another. Three Orchis are quite similar morphologically and "coloristically" : Orchis militaris (Military Orchis), Orchis purpurea (Purple Orchis) and Orchis simia (Monkey Orchis). Hybridizations are therefore possible which will not allow a certain identification.

The Military Orchis is rather pink with a tight labellum in its central part, itself provided with small tufts of hair.

Present in many departments (except Brittany and Massif Central due to unsuitable soil), it flowers between the end of April and the end of June depending on the region and altitude. 

Click on the photos to enlarge

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