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10 Wild Orchids UK Guide

Wild Orchids UK are the kings of flowers that grow wild. This season, look for those who are masterful at mimicry, cleverly manipulating pollinators. Such as the bee orchid that has furry petals or its subtle counterpart, the fly orchid.

Enjoy the fragrance of an Wild Orchids UK orchids that smell sweet, or smell the stench of the Lizard orchid. In the forest, search for the strange bird’s-nest orchid that is growing in leaf litter. It’s an insect that steals nutrients from the tree’s roots and has eliminated the chlorophyll-like green that other plants create their food, in favor of a brown-creamy hue that is everywhere.

In this Pierdom article we going to discuss 10 Wild UK orchids which you can find or see near by you.

Wild orchids UK Protected by Law

There are many varieties of wild UK orchids are rare or being threatened with extinction. Certain species may be common locally while others are listed in the red list and one species is perhaps the most rare of our plants.

All Wild orchids UK are protected under Section 13 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). That means that you shouldn’t remove wild orchids without permission.

Read in detail: Most common UK trees

10 Wild UK Orchids near by You

Wild Orchids UKBinomial NameUK Orchid Height cmBest Time to SeeColour
1Common Spotted OrchidDactylorhiza fuchsii20 to 50cmJune to AugustPurple & Pink
2Ghost orchidEpipogium aphyllumUpto 30cmMay to AugustYellow & White
3Lady’s Slipper orchidCypripedium calceolusUpto 60cmApril to JunePurple
4Dark Red HelleborineEpipactis atrorubensUpto 30cmJune to AugustPurple & Red
5Early Marsh OrchidsDactylorhiza incarnata20 to 35cmfrom May to JulyPink
6Bee OrchidOphrys apiferaUpto 50cmfrom June to JulyYellow & Pink
7Greater butterfly orchid Platanthera chloranthaUpto 60cmFrom July to AugustLight Green & Yellow
8Bird’s-Nest OrchidNeottia nidus-avisUpto 40cmMay to JulyBrown
9Fly orchidOphrys insectiferaUpto 60cmJune to JulyYellow and Green
10Common Twayblade OrchidNeottia ovataUpto 75cmJune to JulyGreen & Yellow

1- Common Spotted Orchid ( Dactylorhiza fuchsii )

Common Spotted Orchids are the most widespread and common orchids found within the UK. The orchid typically grows between 20cm and 50cm in height. However specimens that are up to 70cm tall can be found.

This means that it is generally higher than the Heath Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata with which it’s often mistaken. The lip of this Wild Orchid UK has an exaggerated central tooth.

Common spotted Wild Orchids UK is found in a variety of habitats, such as woodland grassland, cliff land, grassland Old quarries, roadsides. If you think that it’s an Common Spotted Orchid, then it’s probably a Common Spotted Orchid! If the time of flowering and the description, habitat and flowering time appear to be the same. Then it’s probably a pretty precise identification!

2- Ghost orchid ( Epipogium aphyllum )

This is among the most rare Wild orchids UK. It is able to spend the majority of its time underground , and it is able to be able to have as long as 10 years between blooms. This Ghost Orchid is one of our most sought-after wild orchids. Yet, the tiny plant only grows up to 30cm in height .

It can be identified by its white, creamy flowers. the lip has tiny pink spots. There are no leaves on it and relies on the soil fungi for its existence.

Ghost UK wild Orchid outer layer is an illustration of the Velamen that is typical of epiphytic orchids. Its main functions are an absorption process of nutrients as well as water, as well as the admission of light to photosynthesis.

3- Lady’s Slipper orchid ( Cypripedium calceolus )

There is only one place in the UK where this orchid can be found and it is guarded constantly! This Lady’s Slipper Orchid was recognised as an indigenous European plant in the year 1568. The first evidence of the British plant is an adolescent herbarium specimen in 1640. Which was collected from the Ingleton region of Yorkshire.

This orchid species is known as the most popularly depicted species of flowering plants. It’s not difficult to understand why, as the petals have a maroon hue that are often spiralled, and the chamber of orchids is bright yellow, with some red spots. 

The plant can grow to 60cm in height while the stems can be encased with hairs. This Wild Orchids UK can only be found at the Yorkshire Dales, so it’s likely you’ll see this orchid elsewhere.

4- Dark Red Helleborine ( Epipactis atrorubens )

This stunning and rare wild orchid creates a stunning coloration of deep red on the limestone rock surface and is only found in one or two sites across the UK.

Dark-red Helleborines are able to reach 30cm the height. The leaves are distinct and are positioned on either the sides of the stem, almost in opposing pairs. They have deep ridges and heavily veined. However, the leaves higher up on the stem are larger and more narrow.

It thrives in sandy or loose soils that are above limestone substrates, such as open forests, dunes or lawns. Also, it is a pioneer plant, which is found in open areas, and garbage dumps in the middle to early stages of ecological succession amid grassy communities trees, light birch stands, and bushes.

5- Early Marsh Orchids ( Dactylorhiza incarnata )

Early Marsh-orchid is widespread throughout Britain, although increasingly marginalised due to wetland drainage and destruction of habitat for agricultural purposes. This had lead to serious decline in its former inland territories. 

Marsh orchids tend not to have spots on the leaves, but this isn’t always the case! The northern and southern marsh orchids tend to have plain leaves, and their territories only really overlap in the Midlands, which helps with identification. 

Wild Orchids UK dense purple flower spikes, whereas the Early Marsh Orchid is pink with red markings. Best time to see it flowers from late May into July.

6- Bee Orchid ( Ophrys apifera )

Bee Orchid is among the rare orchids in the wild that can stand up to the increasingly hostile environment for wildlife and even expanding its range in a handful of areas. The stunning flowering of this orchid sets them apart from the other orchids that are found in the UK.

Every flower appears as if the bumblebee was there. But upon closer inspection it’s a fanciful illusion. The silky flowers trick you with lustful drones to infect their flowers, thinking the flower for a lover. Bee Wild Orchids UK is found not only in the southern part of UK and Ireland. But is seen in numerous European countries as well.

The flowers bloom from June to July. The flower itself is composed of three large triangular, light-purple petals with protruding petal of purple-brown.

7- Greater butterfly orchid ( Platanthera chlorantha )

This wild orchid has been experiencing an increase in population due to absence of habitat. It is found in grassland, and open scrub which are decreasing because the soil is being enhanced by fertilizer. Butterfly orchid is identified by its whitish-to-yellow flowers, as well as by two large, vast basal leaves. Butterfly wild UK orchid has one spike that can grow up to 60 cm tall.

It is a primarily European species that is located in Scandinavia to the north and as much as Mediterranean region. It also has been recorded from North Africa. 

Currently, it is most commonly found in meadows with no improvement in the UK the species is found in open, deciduous woodlands throughout Europe. It has also been recorded from the dune slacks as well as in the fenland.

8- Bird’s-Nest Orchid ( Neottia nidus-avis )

The name Bird’s Nest Orchid is a reference to the root system that is tangled of the plant that is believed to resemble a bird’s nest. One of the most bizarre plants. It has brown spikes of spectral flowers and no leaves it is a myco-heterotroph (formerly believed to be saprophytes), that relies on a parasitic connection with an fungus to live.

The orchids can reach an average of 40cm in height and, once they are able to emerge from their soil in spring the flower buds have been fully formed, and covered in bracts that gradually let go as the flower spikes increase in size. Best time to see this wild UK orchids from May to July.

9- Fly orchid ( Ophrys insectifera )

The orchid known as the fly is appropriately called so because the flowers look like the eyes of flies. The orchid’s lips flowers are dark brown with two depressions on the bottom that look similar to eyes of insects. It’s a distinct orchid, with each one with up to 15 flowers .

It is common for the orchid to form colonies that can be as large as 10 plants. It is scarce within the UK and is seen mostly in southern England.

Typically, they are found in chalk and limestone soils. But can also be found in chalk-pits, grassland limestone pavements, abandoned railways spoil heaps, and often fragile coastal cliffs.

10- Common Twayblade Orchid ( Neottia ovata )

Despite growing up to about 75cm tall, the orchid is not noticeable because the flowers and the stems and leaves are green, and is a perfect match for the grassy habitats in which it is located.

It is the Common Twayblade Orchid is another popular wild orchids UK that is found across the UK. While it’s not a lot of a draw the orchid could be your first experience with an orchid that might have gone unnoticed.

Large oval leaves as well as small green flowers in an emerald (flower cluster) approximately one foot. It is widespread throughout the UK however, they are quite rare in the northern and central regions of Scotland.

Wild Orchids UK Conclusion

You can see Wild Orchids UK throughout UK and Ireland, flowering between April and September, hitting peak flowering season from May. Tempting as it may be, don’t pick the flowers. Wild Orchids UK look their best out in the wild, and some species are legally protected so you could be breaking the law.

Of the fifty or so species native to the UK, some are surprisingly common and widespread, while others are sought after rarities found only in a few select places. The key to finding orchids is to do your research beforehand: target the right habitats at the right times of year.

Wild UK Orchids FAQS

Q1- Where to see Wild UK Orchids?

Pierdom suggest some of the famous Wildlife Trust reserves to view wild orchids UK at this spring and summer. 

1- The Knapp and Papermill Nature Reserve

2- Fontmell Down

3- Llynclys Common

Q2- How to grow Wild orchids UK?

Many Wild UK orchids are hard to grow. In fact, some are almost impossible to keep alive, much less bring into bloom. Even for professional growers its hard. But there are dozens of wild orchids UK that are perfectly happy growing on a sunny windowsill or under lights.

Q3- When do wild orchids flower?

Most of the wild orchids UK flower blooms from April to August.

Q4- What is the colour of Bee Orchid?

The Bee Orchid colour is Yellow and Pink. The height of Bee orchid is about 50cm.