Orchis militaris

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaOrchidaceaeOrchisOrchis militaris


A tuberous perennial herb found on chalk in grassland, scrub, woodland glades and a chalk-pit. It was planted on industrial waste ground in S. Lancashire, and in new sites in Cambridgeshire and Kent. Lowland.



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Calcareous grassland (includes lowland and montane types)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 3

Reaction (Ellenberg): 9

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.3

Annual Precipitation (mm): 694

Life form information

Height (cm): 45

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Non-bulbous geophyte (rhizome, corm or tuber)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 19

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Distribution information

Plantatt Conservation Status


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 (339c)
Farrell L
1985.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 160. Orchis militaris L. (O. galatea Poir, O. rivini Gouan, O. tephrosanthes Willd. & Sw.). Journal of Ecology. 73:1041-1053.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Hutchings MJ, Mendoza A, Havers W
1998.  Demographic properties of an outlier population of Orchis militaris L. (Orchidaceae). Journal of the Linnean Society. 126:95-107.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Sanford M
1991.  The orchids of Suffolk.
Sell P [D ], Murrell G
1996.  Flora of Great Britain and Ireland, 5. Butomaceae-Orchidaceae.
Waite S, Farrell L
1998.  Population biology of the rare military orchid (Orchis militaris L.) at an established site in Suffolk, England. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 126:109-121.
Wigginton MJ
1999.  British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3.