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Orchids in the Sønderborg-area

Orchids - nature's exotic

Photo: Conni Ernst

The orchids in Denmark are beautiful exotics and protected.

Which one is this ...?

If you are not a great expert, it can be difficult to find out which wild orchid you have photographed and here it can be important to also have a photo where the leaves are visible! At Naturbasen and inaturalist you can post pictures and register your find.

If you are in doubt, there is almost always one of the other users who can help further, and either confirm your suggestion or tell you which species it is. At the same time, you participate in the registration of the diversity in the Danish nature and can share photos for the enjoyment of others.

Danish Nature Association - Sønderborg

The "Guardians of Nature" in Sønderborg not only keep an eye on whether nature is properly managed. They also help to nurture and promote the wild nature in the Sønderborg area via free tours.

Every year in June, an event is held in connection with "The Wild Flower Day" and in addition there are year-round tours with topics such as birds, flowers, bats and mushrooms.

In order to preserve nature's biodiversity, other nature must give way, and you can take part in that work at events such as harvest day or nature conservation in an area where scrub may need to be cleared to make room for, for example, orchids.

Orchids in the Sønderborg-area

Broad-leaved marsh orchid

Likes to grow on moist meadows and in marshy areas where the groundwater is rich in nutrients and lime. The plant has a strong stem and the leaves are generally broad with strong spots on the upper side. The flowers are purple and can vary in shade.

Height: 15-40 cm.
Flowering: Mid/late May - early June
Other: Pollinated by bumble bees.

Broad-leaved marsh orchid in the Sønderborg-area

Broad-leaved marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis) is one of the most widespread in our area. It is red-listed as LC (least concern), which corresponds to not threatened. But its demands on the soil conditions make it vulnerable to changes in the place of growth.Photo:Hajotthu - Wikimedia Commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

Common spotted orchid

Likes to grow in deciduous forests on moist and calcareous soil. The plant has a slender stem and the leaves are broad at the bottom of the plant and become more lanceolate higher up, the leaf spots are wider than long. The flowers are violet to whitish and sit in a pyramidal flower spike.

Height: 45-70 cm
Flowering: June-July.

Common spotted orchid in the Sønderborg-area

The Common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. Fuchsii) is listed on the Red List as LC (Least Concern). However, it is quite rare in Denmark, as it is only registered in East Jutland and on the islands; Lolland, Falster and Bornholm.Photo:Joachim Lutz - Wikimedia commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

Broad-leaved helleborine

Grows in forests and thickets on loam, where the soil is rich in nutrients and lime. The plant has a long and slender stem with green leaves. It can have up to hundreds of flowers that are green with brown or violet insides.

Height: Approx. 100 cm
Flowering: July-September
Other: Pollinated by wasps.

Broad-leaved helleborine in the Sønderborg-area and the island of Als

The Broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) is one of the most common orchids in Denmark and is red-listed as LC (least concern). The flowers contain a lot of nectar and are perhaps therefore a favorite food for deer.Photo:Joachim Lutz - Wikimedia commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

Greater butterfly-orchid

Grows on good soil in open forests, thickets, on open meadows and grasslands. The plant has two large, green lanceolate leaves at the bottom of the stem. The white flowers have long spurs that are part of the flower.

Height: 25-40 cm
Flowering: June-early July
Other: Pollinated by moths.

Greater butterfly-orchid in the Sønderborg-area

The Greater butterfly-orchid (Platanthera chlorantha) is red-listed as NT (nearly threatened). It is particularly exposed to overgrowth and changes in forest management. The flower is almost odorless during the day, whereas in the evening it emits a sweet scent to attract the nocturnal moths.Photo:Orchi - Wikimedia commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

Green-winged orchid

Grows on moist to semi-dry, calcareous soil. Preferably near the coast on slopes, grasslands and grassy meadows. The plant's flowers are very open and vary in color from dark purple to white. The leaves sit in a rosette around the stem.

Height: 8-30 cm
Flowering: May-June
Other: Pollinated by bumble bees and honey bees.

Green-winged orchid in the Sønderborg-area

The Green-winged orchid (Orchis morio) has a distinct floral scent that attracts bees. The name derives from a medicinal preparation which in the old days was extracted from the mucilage of the root tubers and used against diarrhea in infants, as well as respiratory disorders and for salves. The plant is red-listed as NT (nearly treahtend).Photo:Orchi - Wikimedia Commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

Heath spotted-orchid

Grows on lean soil in the heath, on meadows and heaths and pastures. The plant has narrow leaves that are usually heavily spotted on the upper side. The flowers are pale violet and often brighter than those of the Common spotted orchid.

Height: 20-40 cm
Flowering: Mid-June-beginning of August (depending on the place of growth)
Other: Pollinated by bees and large flies.

Heath spotted-orchid at the island of Als in the Sønderborg-area

The Heath spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) can vary greatly in appearance. The plant emits a faint sweet scent to attract insects for pollination. It is red-listed as LC (least concern). The Heath spotted-orchid is fairly common in North and West Jutland and is seen here and there in the rest of Jutland, whereas it is rare in the rest of Denmark.Photo:S. Rae from Scotland - Wikimedia Commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

Eggleaf twayblade

Grows in open forests and thickets as well as on grasslands. Despite its height, this is probably the most overlooked of the wild orchids in Denmark, as its small, delicate flowers are completely pale green. The plant has two large, egg-shaped leaves at the bottom of the stem.

Height: 75-100 cm
Flowering: June-July
Other: Pollinated by small insects.

Eggleaf twayblade in the Sønderborg-area and at the island of Als

The Eggleaf twayblade (Listera ovata) is one of the few orchid species that can reproduce by shooting from the root. It is found in most of Denmark, but is rare in North and West Jutland. The plant is red-listed as LC (least concern).Photo:Stefan Lefnaer - Wikimedia Commons/Kort: SDFE & VisitSønderborg

The spade must stay at home!

Orchids require very special conditions to grow, so bring your camera on a trip and capture the flowers instead of letting them die at home in your garden.

Where some parasitic species of the orchid family grow on trees, Denmark's wild orchids grow in soil. Depending on the species in question, very special conditions are required for the individual plant to grow and thrive - some of them even live in symbiosis with fungi.

It's just a small bouquet or single plant...

Spotted orchids are pollinated by insects, such as the bumble bee, and after flowering they form capsules with thousands of seeds, which will ensure the population in the future. So just a single flower equals a thousand plants.

There are around 35 species of orchids in Denmark and regardless of whether there is a single one or the entire meadow is full, they are protected and must not be picked, dug up, collected or destroyed - even their growing places are under protection.

Cow and calf cosy up amongst spotted orchids in Fjordmosen at the island of Als

The natural area Fjordmosen in forest Nørreskoven on the island of Als is one of the places where spotted orchids grow. The beach meadows are used for grazing Scottish Highland cattle and although they look cute with their long bangs - it's not a good idea to go in to cows with calves...Photo:Conni Ernst

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