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Black Vanilla Orchid - Orchis Vanillé

Nigritella nigra


The Black Vanilla Orchid is a small, deep red European orchid found in alpine pastures between 1500 and 2500 m ASL. The flowers are arranged on a globular spike, and have a deep vanilla smell. The plant loves full light and flowers between end of June and mid-August. Protected by CITES, the main threats to this little alpine jewel are greedy hikers and overgrazing.


Calcarous grassy area, 2200 m ASL. Last picture shows the habitat.


The flower smells strongly of vanilla if you get down on your hands and knees and smell it! Unlike most orchids, the labellum (lip) is directed towards the top of the flower.The plant grows to ~20 cm high. Leaves are found as a rosette as the basis of the plant, with a few more bract-like leaves alternating on the stem. More pictures of the whole plant can be found here (sighted on the opposite side of the same valley)

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31 Comments (1–25)

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thanks devirose! Below is the distribution for Switzerland so you have good chances if you go high enough:

devirose 9 years ago

Beautiful. I am going mushroom hunting in some nearby mountains in Lucerne, Switzerland. I'm going to keep my eyes open for this beauty!

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thanks António!

Wow,just beautiful Danièle,super,congrats on the well deserved SOTD and thanks for sharing

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thank you Satyen :-)

Wild Things
Wild Things 9 years ago

Belated Congratulations Daniele!

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thank you Marc!

MarcTe 9 years ago

stunning orchid!!

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thanks Saumya and Maria!

Maria dB
Maria dB 9 years ago

Congratulations on your SOTD, Daniele, and for posting a protected species!

Congrats on your vanilla smelling SOTD ! :)

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thank you Chief!

Congratulations on your SOTD!

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thanks everyone! Jopy, I hope you find one one day :-)

Jopy 9 years ago

Congrats, Daniele...well deserved...wonderful orchid, I hope I will find it one day in our mountains :)

armadeus.4 9 years ago

Congratulations :)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 9 years ago

Very special indeed. Thanks and congratulations.

The MnMs
The MnMs 9 years ago


Neil Ross
Neil Ross 9 years ago

Ditto to everybody. A great spotting, Daniele, in such a beautiful place. Congrats on your SOTD.

Noel Buensuceso
Noel Buensuceso 9 years ago

Congratulations Daniele for a well-deserved SOTD!

DanielePralong 9 years ago

Thank you very much for the honor Yasser, and thanks everyone for your comments!

LaurenZarate 9 years ago

Congratulations Daniele! Very beautiful photos of the flower and the landscape!

sunnyjosef 9 years ago


Hema  Shah
Hema Shah 9 years ago


Dilan Chathuranga
Dilan Chathuranga 9 years ago

Congrats Daniele!!beautiful!!

Spotted by

Orsières, Valais, Switzerland

Spotted on Jul 15, 2014
Submitted on Jul 30, 2014

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