Fragrant Orchid - Gymnadenia conopsea sensu stricto


Short to medium tuberous rooted plant, stem with 2 or 3 brownish basal sheaths.  Leaves 4 to 8 linear-lanceolate, plain green, decreasing in size up the stem.  Flowers usually pink or reddish lilac, but sometimes white or purple, vanilla scented in a rather dense slender spike, the upper sepal and petals forming a hood.  Lip 3 to 5 mm three lobed with a longer, slender, slightly curved spur.

Similar Species

Gymnadenia densiflora

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Labellum (lower lip) lobed; scarcely wider than long.  There are other size differences; please refer to Stace (4th edition) for details

Recording advice

For records outside the known site, the County Recorder has asked for a specimen of this plant to be retained for verification (a single mature floret + photographs of the whole plant will do)


Grassy habitats, meadows and pastures - dry chalk or limestone grassland.

When to see it

Flowering June and July.

Life History


UK Status

A local and occasional plant throughout much of Britain.  Recently split into three separate species, so older records are ascribed to Gymnadenia conopsea sensu lato.

VC55 Status

Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland, but due the the recent splitting of a single species in three species, status is difficult to assess.   

In the current VC55 checklist (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as Native; this is probably the taxon that is recorded in calcareous grassland, although only rarely. and most recently at Merry's Meadows.

It is on the VC55 Rare Plant Register



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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map