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Lesser Butterfly Orchid

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  • Botanical: Platanthera bifolia
  • Family: Orchidaceae
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Lesser Butterfly Orchid

Botanical

Platanthera bifolia

Family

Orchidaceae

Known as

Zweiblättrige Waldhyazinthe, Weiß-Waldhyazinthe, Weiße Waldhyazinthe

Old Use

culinary, medical

Parts Used

roots

Aroma

sharp, sweet

Description

Lesser butterfly-orchids are not to be confused with the greater butterfly-orchid, which are about the same size. Lesser butterfly-orchids are distinguished by their two shining green basal leaves, especially of the hill form, which are shorter and broader and by the angle of the pollinia.The upper sepal and petals form a loose triangular hood above the pollinia, which lie parallel and close together, obscuring the opening into the spur, which is long and almost straight. There are usually around 25 white flowers tinged with yellow-green in a slim flower spike. The flowers are night-scented, but the chemical components of the scent are different from those of greater butterfly-orchid and attract different pollinators.

Properties & Uses

Salep is very nutritive and demulcent. It has been used as a diet of special value for children and convalescents, being boiled with water, flavoured and prepared in the same way as arrowroot. Rich in mucilage, it forms a soothing and demulcent jelly that is used in the treatment of irritations of the gastro-intestinal canal. One part of salep to fifty parts of water is sufficient to make a jelly. The tuber, from which salep is prepared, should be harvested as the plant dies down after flowering and setting seed.

Other Uses

Tuber - cooked. It is a source of 'salep', a fine white to yellowish-white powder that is obtained by drying the tuber and grinding it into a powder. Salep is a starch-like substance with a sweetish taste and a faint somewhat unpleasant smell. It is said to be very nutritious and is made into a drink or can be added to cereals and used in making bread etc. One ounce of salep is said to be enough to sustain a person for a day. Medicinal Uses Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

 

Cautions

None known

Distribution

The lesser butterfly-orchid occupies a wide range of habitats, being far more tolerant of acid conditions than the greater butterfly-orchid. They are found in grasslands, woodlands (especially beech woods in southern England), in hill pastures up to 400m, on heaths and moorland, and in tussocky marshy ground (Most of Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa, N. Asia, the Caucasus).

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.