It is a native of western Eurasia, ranging from Europe to Iran. In the British Isles it is found in Central-southern England, Wales and Ireland. It grows in grassy meadows, especially on limestone rich soil, reaching a height of 40 cm.
It flowers from late April to June in the British Isles, and as early as February in other countries, such as France. The inflorescence is of various colours, mainly purple but ranging from white, through pink, to deep purple. From 5 to 25 helmet-shaped flowers grow in a loose, linear bunch at the top of the single stalk. The name morio is derived from the Greek word "moros" meanimng "fool". This refers to the colorful, green striped flowers. A pair of lateral sepals with prominent green, occasionally purple veins extend laterally like "wings", giving the orchid its name. The broad, three lobed, lower petal is pale in the center with dark spots. Each flower has a long spur at the back which holds nectar to attract insects to pollinate the bloom.
Leaves are lanceolate, or sometimes ovate, and grow in a rosette around the base of the plan, with some thinner leaves clasping the stem and sheathing almost up to the flowers. Leaves are green and unspotted.
It is similar in appearance to the Early Purple-Orchid, but has green stripes on the two lateral sepals, and lacks the spots or blotches of the Early Purple's leaves.
It is a protected species in Northern Ireland under the Wildlife (NI) Order of 1985.
In 2001 Anacamptis morio was adopted as the logo for Priory Vale, the third and final instalment in Swindon's 'Northern Expansion' project. Due to a rapid decline in the species they are protected in certain cases, although still regarded as being quite common in the Swindon area, especially Clifford Meadow, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) off Thamesdown Drive, Swindon.
A compact plant 5-15 cm (rarely up to 40 cm) tall, with seven to eight blue-green, unspotted basal leaves and one or two pointed, clasping stem leaves. There are 5-12 flowers varying in colour from lilac to blackish-purple, the bracts also being flushed with purple. In most populations there are a few pinkflowered plants and about 1% with pure white flowers alb. Plants with 'broken-coloured' (flecked) flowers have been found in Kent (1999), and a single plant with straw-coloured flowers in Sussex (1966). The broad lateral sepals are marked with six to seven green, or sometimes bronze-coloured, parallel veins which give the species the alternative name of Greenveined Orchid. The dorsal sepal and blunt upper petals form a loose hood. The lip is broad and three-lobed, with the central lobe shorter. The margins are wavy and the lateral lobes folded back. The centre of the lip is white or pale, marked with heavy, dark flecks. The spur is stout and upcurved, with a slightly inflated tip which may be notched. There is no free nectar in the spur, but sugars are stored in the spur wall. Some plants, especially those which are pale coloured, have a strong vanilla scent, while others appear to be scentless.
Small, dark-coloured Early- Purple Orchids with unspotted leaves may look similar, but lack the green veins on the outer sepals.
The hybrid with Early- Purple Orchid was recorded in Westmorland (1985) and the hybrid with Heath Spotted-Orchid near Chippenham in Wiltshire (1994).
Grassy habitats on baserich or even mildly acidic soils: found in ancient hay meadows, unimproved pastures, sand dunes, road verges, churchyards and sometimes lawns.
The Red-tailed Bumblebee and the bumblebee Bombus sylvarum act as pollinators; one bumblebee was found with 16 pollinia stuck to its head! Seed-set is poor in most colonies.
This species has been lost to ploughing and pasture improvement throughout its range. The sole Scottish site has been damaged by road improvements. However, in many places sympathetic management of churchyards and pastures has led to a substantial increase in numbers in recent years
Widely distributed in coastal Wales, central and southern England and East Anglia, but now scarce in south-west England. Occurs as far north as Westmorland and north-east Yorkshire, and in one small area on the west coast of Ayrshire in Scotland. In Ireland, found mainly in the central counties, with outlying populations in west Cork in the southwest and Co. Down.
The Height of this flower goes to is 5-15cm, and the amount of flowers are between 5 and 12.
also the flowering period of this plant is between Late April to Early June.