Fly Orchid is a
perennial plant of the UK, typically found growing in alkaline land, scrubland and open woodlands, to a mature height of up to 60cm.
The Fly Orchid is named after the shape and colour of its brownish flowers, which have fly-like features including 'wings', 'antennae' and 'eyes'. The flowers also have a central shiny white-to-purple patch, simulating the sheen of insect wings. Despite appearance, however, the plant uses this flower mimickry to entice digger wasp pollinators, rather than flies. Fly Orchid flowers initially lure male digger wasps by giving off a scent like the pheremones of the female wasp. Once attracted, the visual appearance tricks the male into pseudocopulation with the flower, pollinating it in the process.
Botanic classification and naming: Fly Orchid is a member of the Orchid (Orchidaceae) family. The genus name
'Ophrys' identifies the plant as a Orchid with 'eyebrow-like' furry-edged flower lips and its species name 'insectifera' means 'insect-bearing (flowers)'.
Concerns: Orchids, like wild flowers in general, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) from being removed from the wild. Rare orchids such as the Early Spider Orchid, Monkey Orchid and Lady's Slipper Orchid are additionally protected from picking and damage. The Fly Orchid is considered to be 'vulnerable and near-threatened'.
Benefits: The Fly Orchid flower shape attracts Digger Wasps, who are responsible for pollination.
Benefits to wildlife are also indicated with orange icons in the plant profile bar at the top.