The most striking feature of the Galilee orchid is the tiny human form created by the lobes of the lower petal. Each flower is only 10-12 mm, but there are usually 15-90 per stalk. The flowers spike rises about 40-70cm above a group of basal leaves. This terrestrial orchid is native to Lebanon and Israel. There are several colour forms within this species, the flower colour and markings can range from white, green, and yellow to pink. For more photos please see: Orchis galilaea on the Gallery of the World’s Bulbs site.
The name of the genus Orchis is derived from the Greek orchis, which means testicle, and refers to the pair of underground tuber-like structures at the base of the orchid. This also explains why this genus has often been regarded as an aphrodisiac and used in fertility treatments.
Research suggests that Orchis galilaea relies on a sexually deceptive pollination strategy. Instead of producing a reward of nectar for visiting pollinators this orchid produces a scent that mimics the female sex pheromones which attract male bees (Halictus marginatus) to the flowers. Members of the orchid family exhibit a wide range of pollination techniques.