Many orchids can be found in our region. Here is one currently blooming near the farm.
It is Orchis mascula, the early-purple orchid.
It is a perennial herbaceous plant 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 composed of 6 to 20 flowers gathered in dense cylindrical spikes. The flower color varies from pink to violet. 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.
This orchid is devoid of nectar and attracts pollinating insects (bees, wasps and sometimes beetles) with the appearance of its flower which mimics other species.
The species is widespread across Europe.
It is referred to as "long purple" by Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
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.