Belongs to: orchid family

Early purple orchid Orchis mascula

Best time to see: mid Apr to mid Jun

Key facts

A comparatively common orchid of shady meadows and open woods

20-50 reddish-purple flowers in a loose spike, 10-60cm tall; darkly spotted leaves

Smells sweet when the flowers open but later of tomcat's urine, perhaps to warn that it has been pollinated

© Martin Gregory