Greater Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera chlorantha)
P. chlorantha is a distinctive orchid of hay meadows, open scrub, grassland and ancient woodlands, especially along rides and in clearings and along woodland edges. It tends to prefer calcium rich soils such as those found on chalk grassland.
P. chlorantha should not to be confused with the Lesser Butterfly Orchid (P. bifolia), which is about the same size and of similar appearance. The safest way of telling the two species apart is by close examination and comparison of the pollinia - the mass of pollen grains in the plant. The pollen sacs of P. chlorantha are 3-4 mm long and converge above while being widely spaced at the base in an inverted ‘V’ shape. Those of P. bifolia are a couple of millimeters long, vertical, parallel and close together, forming a ‘II’ shape. The flowers of P. chlorantha have an attractive vanilla scent, which gets stronger at night to attract moths, their main pollinators.