John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Dactylorhiza viridis


This species was first described by Hartman from Koenigsberg, Germany  in  1753  and its name refers
to the overall bland, greenish appearance of the plant.

Until quite recently this species was the single European member of the genus Coeloglossum but molecular
analysis has now determined that the species is more correctly positioned with the genus Dactylorhiza and
accordingly, Coeloglossum has now been subsumed.   

D. viridis  is  a  widespread but highly localised orchid wtih  a  circumboreal distribution throughout most
of Europe,  nowhere is it particularly common.  Its choice of  habitat is extremely varied and the species
can be found in dry or wet conditions, in full sun or shade and on alkaline or acid substrates.  Although it
may occur at high altitudes throughout its distribution, in the south of it is range it is usually confined to montane grasslands and light woodland. D. viridis can tolerate altitudes up to nearly 3000 metres and
is perfectly at home growing alongside more specialized Alpine orchids such as G. rhellicani and P. albida.

This species cannot be described as much of a beauty and despite a degree of variability, is unlikely to be
confused with  any other.  D. viridis is a predominantly green plant with flowers that can  be  similarly
coloured or exhibit shades of brown, red or olive.  Several variants have been described but these are of
little evolutionary importance.  The most easily recognized of the named variants is longibracteatum which
as its name suggests possesses lengthy bracts.

The pictures here come from the chalk grasslands of Southern England and date from the last week of June.                .