Family - ORCHIDACEAE
Genus - Orchis
Species - mascula
Common English name -
Early purple orchid
Common Spanish name -
Flowering time -
April - June
Probably the most common orchid to be found in and around the Picos de Europa, the Early purple, Orchis mascula, grows from sea level to above the cable car at Fuente De at over 1,800m and can appear in the valleys as early as March, dependant on factors such as temperatures and rainfall. At higher altitudes one or two can hang on until July.
Flowers are borne on usually lax, though sometimes dense, spikes on stalks flushed with purple. The long and erect spurs point upwards.
The colour of the flowers can vary from almost white to a deep purple.
Leaves are basal and usually, although not always, spotted.
The centre of the slightly raised labellum (lip) is almost white and darkly spotted. The upper sepals and petals form the hood, lateral sepals point outwards. The centre lobe is slightly notched in the middle.