The lesser butterfly orchid (Platanthera bifolia) is one of the most common and also one the most favorite Estonian orchids. It can be found almost anywhere in the country but slightly more frequently in wetland meadows and sparse woods in Western Estonia. It has been given nearly one hundred popular names, of which ööviiul (night violin) is perhaps the most widespread.
Apart from the cluster of its beautiful flowers it also has a two strong and prominent leaves united at the bottom that serve as a distinguishing feature from a related species, Platanthera chloranta. With the arrival of night the lesser butterfly orchid starts sending out a particularly strong scent that pervades the whole meadow or forest floor with it sweet and sometimes even rank odour. The smell attracts large numbers of insects to feed on the nectar in its long spur of up to three and half centimeters, but only butterflies with a long proboscis can really feast on it.
Title: Lesser butterfly orchid
Date of Issue: 19 February 2010
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