Orchis ustulata

Botanical Name : Orchis ustulata
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily:Orchidoideae
Tribe: Orchideae
Subtribe:Orchidinae
Genus: Neotinea
Species:N. ustulata
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Names:Dark-Winged Orchis , Burnt orchid or Burnt-tip orchid

Habitat :Orchis ustulata is native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, the Caucasus and Siberia. It grows on chalk downs and limestone pastures, it is also found in marshy places.

Description:
Orchis ustulata is a bulb. It grows from two spherical tubers with thick roots. It is believed that the plant can grow underground for 10-15 years before the first stem appears. Plants have 3 to 9 cm (1.2 to 3.5 in) leaves with prominent veins, along with a couple of leaves typically around the flower stem, which can reach 28 cm (11 in), though typically less than 13 cm (5.1 in) tall.

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Flowers are born in a dense cylindrical pattern, with individual plants capable of producing up to 70 flowers. The sepals and petals form a 3 mm (0.12 in) hood that is reddish-brown, over a white crimson-spotted lower lip that is 4 mm (0.16 in). Flowers have a strong fragrance that is described as similar to honey. N. ustulata flowers from May through June, with the subspecies, Neotinea ustulata subsp. aestivalis blooming in July in England. The common name comes from the tips of the flower buds having a burnt appearance.

It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.
Cultivation:
Prefers a sunny position and a good limey loam soil. Requires a deep rich soil. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid. This symbiotic relationship makes them very difficult to cultivate, though they will sometimes appear uninvited in a garden and will then thrive. Transplanting can damage the relationship and plants might also thrive for a few years and then disappear, suggesting that they might be short-lived perennials. Plants can succeed in a lawn in various parts of the country. The lawn should not be mown early in the year before or immediately after flowering. Plant out bulbs whilst the plant is dormant, preferably in the autumn. Bulbs can also be transplanted with a large ball of soil around the roots when they are in leaf, they are impatient of root disturbance. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The flowers diffuse a powerful almond-like scent. Cultivated plants are very susceptible to the predation of slugs and snails.
Propagation:
Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move. Division of the tubers as the flowers fade. This species produces a new tuber towards the end of its growing season. If this is removed from the plant as its flowers are fading, the shock to the plant can stimulate new tubers to be formed. The tuber should be treated as being dormant, whilst the remaining plant should be encouraged to continue in growth in order to give it time to produce new tubers. Division can also be carried out when the plant has a fully developed rosette of leaves but before it comes into flower. The entire new growth is removed from the old tuber from which it has arisen and is potted up, the cut being made towards the bottom of the stem but leaving one or two roots still attached to the old tuber. This can often be done without digging up the plant. The old tuber should develop one or two new growths, whilst the new rosette should continue in growth and flower normally.

Edible Uses:
Root – cooked. It is a source of ‘salep‘, a fine white to yellowish-white powder that is obtained by drying the tuber and grinding it into a powder. Salep is a starch-like substance with a sweetish taste and a faint somewhat unpleasant smell. It is said to be very nutritious and is made into a drink or can be added to cereals and used in making bread etc. One ounce of salep is said to be enough to sustain a person for a day.
Medicinal Uses:

Antiflatulent; Demulcent; Nutritive.

Salep (see above for more details) is very nutritive and demulcent. It has been used as a diet of special value for children and convalescents, being boiled with water, flavoured and prepared in the same way as arrowroot. Rich in mucilage, it forms a soothing and demulcent jelly that is used in the treatment of irritations of the gastro-intestinal canal. One part of salep to fifty parts of water is sufficient to make a jelly. The tuber, from which salep is prepared, should be harvested as the plant dies down after flowering and setting seed.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neotinea_ustulata
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Orchis+ustulata

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