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Green-winged orchid


8-30 centimeters


flower: dark red-purple to pink or white
lip: spots

blossoms in:

May and June


particularly by bumblebee queens


seed, buds

lilfe span:



from Mediterranean area to Scotland and Baltic Sea

  • Dut: Harlekijn
  • Lat: Orchis morio
  • Eng: Green-winged orchid, green-veined orchid
  • Fren: Orchis bouffon
  • Ger: Kleines Knabenkraut
, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

Green-winged orchid

Why call a purple orchid green-winged? If you look closely at the blossoms, you will see that the side petals ('the wings') have green stripes. This orchid is also known as the green-veined orchid. The green-winged orchid grows mostly in damp, calcium-rich, scanty hay fields and is legally protected. The flower stalk consists of 5-25 loosely grouped helmet-shaped flowers. It often grows together with yellow-rattle. The unusual association of green-winged orchid and yellow-rattle is probably not found outside of the Netherlands.

On Texel

Texel has the most green-winged orchids in all of the Netherlands. In 2001, there were reports of up to 2.5 million plants on the island! Sometimes, you find white flowered green-winged orchids here. The fertile polderland the Bol, north of Oost, contains so many green-winged orchids that together with the broad-leaved orchid, they turn the field purple in May. The Bol was a former salt marsh and has a very specific soil composition. It is primarily sandy clay with slightly basic to lightly acidic conditions. The groundwater level is high but not so high that the plants stand in water for too long.

  • Habitat and protection
    Green-winged orchid, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    The number of areas where green-winged orchids grows dropped steeply in the 20th century due to the plant's extreme sensitivity to human influences. It is only found in several areas in the wadden region, such as Texel and Terschelling, and sporadically in South Limburg, on Schouwen-Duiveland and Goeree.

    After studying the various vegetations where this orchid still grows in the Netherlands, researchers concluded that special management is required in order to protect this rare orchid. Green-winged orchids only survive nowadays on hay fields that are extensively managed. The fields are mowed and the vegetation is kept open by grazing in late summer, allowing the seeds to germinate. Aspects that help prevent other plants from dominating give green-winged orchids a greater chance to prosper. Examples are calcium-rich soils or brackish soils with a high water table in the winter.

  • Did you know that...
    Green-winged orchid, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    ... on Texel you can also find flowers of the green-winged orchid colored dark blue-purple or even white.