Fragrant Orchid

Gymnadenia conopsea

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The Common Fragrant Orchid is a robust, medium-sized orchid found on dry and damp grasslands, particularly with chalky soils or on limestone. Clustering to form cylindrical, densely packed flower spikes, the flowers themselves are usually pink but can vary from purple to white. In bloom during June and July, the Common Fragrant Orchid lives up to its name by producing a sweet, orangey smell that is particularly strong in the evening.

How to identify

Common Fragrant Orchids display clusters of pink flowers that have a three-lobed lip, a hood and a long spur trailing behind them. The cylindrical head of flowers can measure up to 15cm in height. A few, narrow, green leaves appear at the base of the plant and up the stem.

Where to find it

Abundant in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as in the south of England and Wales.


When to find it

  • June
  • July

How can people help

Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands have been likened to rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland nature reserves for the benefit of the rare wildlife they hold by using traditional management methods such as autumn grazing and scrub clearance. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from flower surveys to stockwatching.

Species information

Common name
Fragrant Orchid
Latin name
Gymnadenia conopsea
Height: up to 40cm
Conservation status