Fly Orchid

Common name:
Fly Orchid
Ophyrys insectifera
Magairlín na gcuileanna
Flowering period:
May to July
limestone pavement with calcareous grasslands, roadside verges, rocky limestone pavement and heaths
Conservation Status:
This orchid is classified as NEAR THREATENED in the Red Data list of Vascular Plants 2016.

Short description:   A very curious orchid with green and  brown velvety flowers that mimic the shape and texture of an insect (insectifera– means insect bearing).  Individual flowers release pheromones that attract flies and wasps, which then try to mate with  it and in so doing pick up the pollinia.

Noteworthy characteristics

Often overlooked due to its inconspicuous greenish brown colour,  this strange orchid is easily identified once spotted.  It is a must for observation with a hand lens in order to fully appreciate the velvety texture and unique shape of its flowers.

Uses and other points of interest:

Fly orchid is generally confined to fens and limestone pavement in the west and centre of Ireland and is rare elsewhere

Personal note

I have always appreciated this unique orchid and love to see it each year. It is not an orchid that I see in many places but there are a few locations nearby where it returns to each season.





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