A stout, thick-stemmed, sombre orchid. With the Green-Winged Ochid, this is one of the earlest blooming in the Mediterrenean region. The stem often has a reddish-brown or purple tint, but largely hidden by the large clasping leaves.
Borne in a dense cylindrical spike. The fragrence similar to an iris. The sepals are a spreading redish-violet. The petals have an underlying greenish tint, and are (usually) spotted with bright pink or purple, forming a helmet.
The lip is violet-pink, sometimes with a greenish tint, about 15-20 mm long; spotted with with a purple center. There are two short arms, and a central lobe divided at the end into two short legs. A short 4-6 mm spur is downturned.
Bract. Lanceolate, longer than the flowers and suffused with a redish-brown or violet color.
Leaf. Plain green leaves are quite large, bluntly pointed. The upper leaves clasp the stem rather bract-like.
Habitat. Garrigue, maquis, open woodland, grassy places and roadsides. Our photos were taken in March at about 800m, north of Grasse, and they grow randomly in our grass at Grasse.