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Species Notebook:

  • Common Twayblade

    • Common Twayblade: lost in the wilderness

      Post date: Monday, 21 July, 2014 - 00:00

      Most of us think of orchids as being colourful, striking flowers that stand out in a crowd but I suppose if there is a poor relation it has to be the common twayblade (Neottia ovata). It is undoubtedly an orchid but it is so plain it is just very easy to overlook.

      Common twayblade is one the most common orchids here in Dorset found in both woodland settings and in grassy places, especially where the soil is calcareous. It is, however, all green: the flower, the stem and the two leaves are all just green and so it disappears amongst the grasses and other vegetation! It can be quite small and yet, in favourable areas the flower spikes can grow to nine inches or so in height, even bigger some times. The two large leaves that appear at the base of the stem give it its name - two blades or twayblade.

      If you do find one take a closer look at the individual flowers on the central spike. I think they look like a little people!

      In honesty, this flower looks like a great plantain and I am sure I have passed it by and dismissed it as a plantain more than once!  


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