Pale-flowered orchid (Orchis pallens)
The European wild orchids of the Orchis genus are
unmistakably part of the Orchidaceae family: a close look
at their tiny flowers reveals that they are constructed on
the same model as the flowers of beautiful tropical orchids.
This wild orchid grows throughout Slovenia, though it is
still far from common. It prefers shady, semi-dry locations
and therefore does well in the shade of sparse
mainly deciduous forests, forest edges and
also shady meadows, preferably on a limestone base. It
has an unobtrusive pale yellow colour, hence the
part of its name. Unlike related species, it has no spots
either on its flowers or on its leaves, which are light green
colour and of an elongated, ovoid shape. It flowers in April
and May. It is most common in central Slovenia and rare
in southern Primorska and Štajerska. It is not found in
Pomurje (Mura Basin) region.
Monkey orchid (Orchis simia)
The monkey orchid is only found in sub-Mediterranean
Slovenia, most commonly in the Slovenian part of the
Istrian peninsula, although even there it is rare. It thrives
sunny exposures of dry meadows and sparse oak woods.
It owes its Latin species name simia (simian) to the fact
that its central petal or labellum resembles a monkey.
The labellum serves as a landing place for the insects that
pollinate the flower. Unlike the other wild orchids found in
Slovenia, in this species the flowers first begin to open at
the top of the inflorescence rather than at the bottom. The
monkey orchid is rare, since in Slovenian Istria (and also in
the Goriška Brda hill region) the dry, unfertilised
which are its preferred habitat are overgrown or have been
converted to intensive farmland.
Burnt-tip orchid (Orchis ustulata)
The burnt-tip orchid grows throughout Slovenia and is not
a rare plant. Dry meadows, above all on limestone, are its
preferred habitat, but it also thrives on the edges of forests
and in sparse woodland and can even be found in fertilised
meadows. The species also thrives in mountainous areas up to
a height of 1,800 metres above sea level. Its labellum is
hence its Slovene name pikastocvetna kukavica or spottedpetal
orchid. Its English name derives from the fact that the tip
of its inflorescence has a dark appearance, as though burnt.
It is a low-growing plant that as a rule grows to a height of
more than 15 centimetres, and is therefore easily missed; its
flowers are also small. Summer varieties can grow taller –
up to half a metre – so some specimens are characterised as
separate subspecies. Like all orchids it has two oval tubers in
the ground – last year’s and the current
Lady orchid (Orchis purpurea)
One of the largest (up to a metre in height) and most beautiful
of the orchids found in Slovenia. With its relatively large
flowers and tall stem, it is hard to miss. Even the upper part of
stem is of a reddish colour. The labellum is pale pink and
with tiny scarlet pimples known as papillae. It can be found in
warm sunny locations on limestone across almost the whole of
Slovenia, with the exception of the Alpine region, although it
very rare outside the sub-Mediterranean area. It is, by contrast,
common species in sub-Mediterranean Slovenia in semi-humid to
semi-dry light woodland, forest edges, deciduous woodland and
meadows. The main threats to this orchid are the fertilisation
meadows and overgrowing.
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