— early spider-orchid
— is an early flowering orchid
found on alkaline meadows and waste land.
It has a distribution that includes western
and northern Europe
extending to parts of southern England
but may also be found as far east as Corfu
and possibly also in southern Spain
. The distribution may however be uncertain because of confusion between related species. In Britain
, it is restricted to parts of Dorset
and is regarded as rare although where it is found it may be in stands of many hundreds of plants. It is classified as a British Red Data Book
plant. Despite its apparent vulnerability, it has very successfully colonised the chalk spoil dumping grounds created near Dover at Samphire Hoe
from the excavations of the Channel Tunnel
It forms stands of relatively short plants between 30 cm to 40 cm in April and May. The flowers have yellow-green sepals and a velvety brown labellum with a distinctive H marking so that the flowers much resembles an arthropod and especially a spider.