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Orchis anthropophora.
Orchis homme pendu.
Man orchid

The Hanging Man Orchis is part of the genus Orchis, which has been largely cut off from many species now classified in the genera Anacamptis or Dactylorhiza. It was part of the genus Aceras which no longer has any representatives in France.

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.

Of a color where green dominates, but  with yellow tints and a little purple, it is generally not very colorful. Its labellum is long and narrow, a bit like a silhouette whose legs and arms hang along the body, hence its name "hanging man" in French and "Man orchid" in English. It likes drained limestone land and it will often be found on small slopes, roadsides, embankments, rarely on forest paths but sometimes on the edge of woods. 

It hybridizes easily with other Orchis (military, purple or monkey).

Present in many departments (except Brittany), it flowers between the end of April and the end of June depending on the region and altitude. It is one of the most common orchids in France.

Click on the photos to enlarge

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