2012 News

Orchids of Northern Ireland (1)

Early Purple Orchid, North Antrim
Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula)
The Early Purple Orchid is the first orchid to come into flower in Northern Ireland and it can be seen right now.

They can grow up to 60cm high depending on where they are growing and can have 50 flower heads, though many a smaller than this. Whilst most flowers are purple you can also find more pinkish and even white individuals. It will have between 4 and 8 long basal leaves which can be spotted with purplish/brown blotches on the top of the leaf. The stem is green at the base becoming purple towards the top. When they first come out the flowers smell of honey though they smell more like tom-cats as they mature!

They flower from April to June and can be seen on roadside verges, woodlands and grasslands, though less so on acidic soils. They are widespread in Northern Ireland can often be seen alongside the road between Ballycastle and Ballintoy and in the Antrim Glens.