Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid)


This tuberous perennial herb grows on a variety of neutral and calcareous soils, and is most frequent in woodland, coppices and calcareous grassland. However, it also occurs in hedgerows, scrub, on roadsides and railway banks and on limestone pavement and moist cliff ledges. 0-880 m (Caenlochan, Angus).



World Distribution

European Temperate element.

© R. Stewart, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 6

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.7

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1073

Life form information

Height (cm): 40

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Non-bulbous geophyte (rhizome, corm or tuber)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 1962

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 475

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 9

Atlas Change Index: -0.72

Weighted Changed Factor: -27

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (340c)
Wild orchids of Scotland,
Allan, B., and Woods P.
, Edinburgh, (1993)

Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols,
Hultén, E., and Fries M.
, Königstein, (1986)

Wild orchids of Dorset,
Jenkinson, M. N.
, Gillingham, (1991)

Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols,
Meusel, H., Jäger E., and Weinert E.
, Jena, (1965)

The orchids of Suffolk,
Sanford, M.
, Ipswich, (1991)