Lesser butterfly orchid

Latin name: Platanthera bifoliaLesser butterfly orchid

Height: 40 - 50cm

Where: Meadows and moorland

When: Flowers June and July

One of our most dramatic flowers, these orchids grace our meadows and acidy moorlands with their maiden-white flower spikes in June and July. Hunker down to smell them, especially at dusk, and you will find they have a strong perfume, almost too exotic for a Scottish flower!

Their Latin name, ‘bifolia’, refers to the single pair of leaves at their base, which helps identify them when they are not in flower.These lovely plants have declined by nearly a third in the UK over the last 50 years, due mainly to the loss of their favoured habitats. If you do find one, please send you records in the SNH at http://www.snh.org.uk/orchid2009. They are building up a database of the plant's locations to try to stem its loss.

Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods