Lizard Orchid - Himantoglossum hircinum


    This tall orchid carries up to 150 greenish-purple flowers on the flower spike. The common name refers to the flowers, which are said to look like lizards, with a long twisting tail and two 'legs' formed from the lips, and the petals and sepals forming the 'head'. The leaves are dull green in colour and often wither before the flowers open. The scientific name Himantoglossum derives from the Greek for 'strap-tongue' and hircinum is Latin for 'goat-like', this refers to the strong, foul smell of the flowers.

    Identification difficulty

    Typical habitats are grassland, ancient earthworks, scrub, open woodland, road, track and path sides, quarries, railway banks and calcareous sands (six of the current populations in these habitats are on golf courses).

    When to see it

    It begins to flower from late May to early July.

    Life History

    This perennial orchid may live for more than twenty years, but most plants flower irregularly and many only flower once.

    UK Status

    This species is rare in the UK, and found locally in south east England.

    VC55 Status

    Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland where it was first recorded in June 2018. Precise location details have been noted but not made generally available.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    UK Map