Stately and elegant plant of undisturbed pasture, bogland and, usually, calcareous heaths, the Greater Butterfly-orchid grows to a greater height than its little sister, the Lesser Butterfly-orchid. It reaches 50 cm and bears its beautiful creamy-white flowers in a loose, somewhat pyramidal, spike. Each vanilla-scented flower is comprised of two spreading lateral lobes, a long lip which is tinted pale green towards the tip, and the spur. This spur is a nectar-filled tube to attract pollinating moths. The pollen stalks in this flower are arranged, within the flower's opening, in an inverted V whereas those of the Lesser Butterfly-orchid are parallel to each other. Along with its greater height, this feature helps in identification. The plant has a single pair of wide leaves at its base and also a few little stem leaves. A perennial plant, it blooms from May to July. This is a native wildflower and it belongs to the Orchidaceae family.
I recorded this plant growing in the Burren in 1988 and near Ardrishaig in Scotland in 1993 when I also photographed it.
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre