John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Neottia ovata

N. ovata was first described from Baden-Wirttemberg (Germany} by Bluff and Fingerhuth in 1753 and its name refers to the oval shape of the leaves.

This is arguably the most familiar and widespread orchid in temperate Europe, though extremely rare in the Mediterranean zones. It is a species well suited to 21st century existence in that it tolerates a wide range of conditions and possesses a pollination system that allows a huge variety of insects to trigger its reproductive mechanisms. N. ovata, as with its smaller but close relative N. cordata produces copious nectar and insects following this bountiful trail immediately activate a sensitive internal apparatus which fires off a droplet of liquid that sets hard on the visiting insects head.

There are few orchids which can really be described as common, but in as far as this circumstance exists, N. ovata is a common orchid and one which can be found growing in a huge range of conditions, with the exception of the most strongly acidic substrates. Full sun or heavy shade, damp or dry soils and even high altitude seem to be a matter of insignificance to this hardy species, though as mentioned earlier it draws a line at the excessively high Spring temperatures of the Mediterranean.

Another reason for this species success is its ability to survive and flower for more than twenty years without the presence of mycorrhiza. This is an orchid which although somewhat unprepossessing in appearance, is truly robust and likely to survive where other species capitulate to modern agricultural and population pressures. An example of the adaptability of this species can be seen in the final two photos which depict a plant growing in an acidic bog in the New Forest of southern England.