A rhizomatous herb of unimproved, well-grazed grassland on dry calcareous soils, especially on chalk and limestone, and on cliff-tops and sand dunes; also on lawns and, rarely, on less acidic heathland. It can persist for many years without flowering, appearing in hundreds when grazing or mowing ceases. Lowland.
This species declined considerably, particularly before 1930, when many pastures were re-sown or converted to arable. The 1962 Atlas included the results of a survey conducted in the hot summer of 1955, when it flowered profusely on uncut lawns (Perring, 1956). Losses due to agricultural intensification and undergrazing still occur.
European Southern-temperate element.
Light (Ellenberg): 8
Moisture (Ellenberg): 4
Reaction (Ellenberg): 6
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.4
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.9
Annual Precipitation (mm): 884
Height (cm): 15
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 655
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 117
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13
Atlas Change Index: -0.95
Atlas text references
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1991. Wild orchids of Dorset.
1991. The orchids of Suffolk.
1967. Changes in a population of Spiranthes spiralis (L.) Chevall. at Knocking Hoe National Nature Reserve, Bedfordshire, 1962-65. Journal of Ecology. 55:83-99.