Anacamptis pyramidalis

Anacamptis pyramidalis, Cyprus, Photo:  Augusta Stylianou Artist

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Liliopsida
Subclassis: Liliidae
Ordo: Asparagales
Familia: Orchidaceae
Subfamilia: Orchidoideae
Tribus: Orchideae
Subtribus: Orchidinae
Genus: Anacamptis
Species: Anacamptis pyramidalis

Name

Anacamptis pyramidalis (L.) Rich.

Vernacular Names
Deutsch: Pyramiden-Hundswurz
Ελληνικά: Ανακάμπτιδα η πυραμιδοειδή
English: Pyramidal orchid
Français: Orchis pyramidal
Nederlands: Hondskruid
Polski: Koślaczek stożkowaty
Українська: Анакамптис пірамідальний

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The Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis, is an orchid native to southwestern Eurasia, from western Europe through the Mediterranean region eastwards to Iran. In Germany, it is rare and was declared Orchid of the Year in 1990 to heighten awareness of this plant.


This hardy perennial plant grows to a height of 30 cm. The colour of the flower varies from pink to purple, or rarely white, and the scent is described as "foxy". The arrangement of hermaphroditic flowers in a compact pyramidal shape is very distinctive and gives the orchid its common name. The flowers are pollinated by butterflies and moths. The mechanism by which its pairs of pollinia attach themselves to an insect's proboscis was discovered by Charles Darwin and described in his book on the Fertilisation of Orchids.[1] This orchid requires a sunny spot on diverse soils: loamy or clay, rarely on sandy soils. It can even grow on very alkaline soil.

The dried and ground tuber gives a fine white powder, called salep. This is a very nutritious sweet starchlike substance. It is used in drinks, cereals and in making bread. It is also used medicinally in diets for children and convalescents.

There are some notable varieties, which are sometimes treated as subspecies – and as they seem to be limited to certain regions, this may be correct:

* Anacamptis pyramidalis var. tanayensis (Chenevard) Soó in Keller – Tanay Pyramidal Orchid.

Flowers darker and smaller. Fribourg and Valais cantons (Switzerland).

* Anacamptis pyramidalis var. urvilleana (Sommier & Caruana) Kreutz – Maltese Pyramidal Orchid

Malta.

* Anacamptis pyramidalis var. sanguinea (Druce) Kreutz – Western Irish Pyramidal Orchid.

Inflorescence rounder, plant smaller overall. County Galway to County Kerry (Ireland)

The variety alba can be found anywhere in the Pyramid Orchid's range; its flowers are white.

References

1. ^ Darwin 1862, pp. 20–24, 37

* Darwin, Charles (1862), On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing, London: John Murray, http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F800&pageseq=1, retrieved 2009-07-30

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