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Common Twayblade

Neottia ovata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Bogs, grassland, meadows, moorland, sand dunes, scrub, swamps, woodland.

Green, 2 petals
The flowers of Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) are a true marvel of nature. Delicately designed and intricately structured, these orchid blooms captivate observers with their understated beauty. Each flower spike bears a cluster of small, pale greenish-yellow blossoms that collectively resemble a miniature chandelier. The individual flowers consist of unique, intricate parts, including a hood-like upper sepal, a lower lip with a subtle yellow hue, and a central column where pollination occurs. While not as flamboyant as some other orchid species, the modest charm of Common Twayblade's flowers lies in their simplicity and grace. They thrive in the UK's woodlands, adding a touch of elegance to the country's natural landscapes during their blooming season, which typically occurs in late spring to early summer.
The fruit of the Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) is as unassuming as the plant itself. After the flowering stage, these orchids produce small, inconspicuous seed capsules. These capsules, which are green and elliptical in shape, contain numerous tiny, dust-like seeds. Unlike some other fruiting plants, Common Twayblade's capsules do not burst open to disperse their seeds actively. Instead, they rely on various factors, such as wind or the movement of animals, to distribute their seeds in the surrounding environment. These minute seeds are part of the plant's reproductive strategy, contributing to the perpetuation of this orchid species in the woodlands and meadows of the United Kingdom. While the fruit may not be visually striking, it plays a crucial role in the orchid's life cycle and ecological interactions.
Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) boasts a distinctive and intriguing leaf structure that sets it apart in the world of orchids. Its leaves are characterized by their two unique, oval-shaped, basal leaves that lie flat against the ground. These leaves are typically a deep, glossy green and feature prominent parallel veins. What makes Common Twayblade particularly fascinating is that it is partially mycoheterotrophic, meaning it forms a symbiotic relationship with fungi in the soil. This allows it to obtain nutrients from the fungi, reducing its reliance on photosynthesis and subsequently leading to its minimalistic leaf structure. The leaves of Common Twayblade serve as an adaptation to its specific ecological niche, reflecting its ability to thrive in the shaded and nutrient-poor environments of woodlands, where it can be found across the United Kingdom.
Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata), a wild orchid native to the UK, is characterized by a subtle and delicate fragrance. The scent of Common Twayblade is often described as soft and sweet, with a hint of vanilla-like undertones. While it may not possess the overpowering or strong fragrance associated with some other flowers, its gentle aroma adds to its overall allure and makes it a charming presence in the natural landscapes of the UK.
Other Names:
Eggleaf Twayblade, European Common Twayblade.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Neottia ovata, also known as the Common Twayblade, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. Like Neottia cordata, it is a member of the Orchidaceae family and is known for its small, green and brown flowers. It is not commonly used for medicinal or other practical purposes, and there is little scientific research on its potential benefits. It is a terrestrial orchid, and it's considered as a rare and endangered species in many countries, often found in damp and shady woodlands, and is a protected species in some areas.


Common Twayblade, also known as Neottia ovata, is a type of orchid that is widely distributed throughout Europe and parts of Asia. This species is well known for its unique, beautiful flowers and interesting ecological interactions. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the fascinating world of the Common Twayblade.

Appearance and Structure

The Common Twayblade is a small, terrestrial orchid that grows up to 30 cm tall. Its leaves are oval and dark green, arranged in pairs along the stem. The flowers are greenish-brown and are born on a spike that can be up to 15 cm tall. The flowers are often overlooked due to their subtle coloration, but they are incredibly intricate and delicate. Each flower is composed of a tubular stem, called the labellum, and two lateral sepals. The labellum is covered in dense, velvety hairs that help to attract pollinators.

Ecology and Life Cycle

The Common Twayblade is a hemiparasitic plant, which means that it relies on other plants for some of its nutrient needs. The plant will tap into the roots of nearby trees and shrubs to obtain water and nutrients. This relationship is beneficial for both the Twayblade and its host plant, as the Twayblade provides the host with a larger root system, which can improve its ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil.

The Common Twayblade has a very specific life cycle, with each stage being dependent on the correct timing of pollination. In late spring and early summer, the plant produces its flowers, which are visited by various species of bees and flies. The flowers are adapted to these pollinators, with the labellum offering a landing platform and a place for the insects to collect nectar. As the insects move from flower to flower, they transfer pollen, which is then used to fertilize the plant's eggs. The fertilized eggs develop into seeds, which are dispersed by wind and water.

Conservation Status

Despite its wide distribution, the Common Twayblade is considered to be at risk in some parts of its range. The main threat to this species is habitat loss, as grasslands and meadows are increasingly converted for agriculture or urban development. The Common Twayblade is also vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, as the heavy metals and other pollutants can damage the plant's delicate root system.

To help conserve this species, various conservation organizations are working to protect its natural habitats. This includes the creation of nature reserves, the restoration of degraded meadows and grasslands, and the promotion of sustainable land management practices.

The Common Twayblade is a fascinating and important species that offers a glimpse into the complex world of orchids. From its unique life cycle to its intricate flowers, the Twayblade is a testament to the incredible diversity and beauty of nature. By continuing to protect this species and its habitats, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the wonder of the Common Twayblade.

More Information

In addition to its ecological significance, the Common Twayblade also has a long history of use by humans. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and digestive issues. The plant was also believed to have mystical properties, and was sometimes used in love spells and to ward off evil spirits.

Another interesting aspect of the Common Twayblade is its reproduction system. The species is self-compatible, which means that it can self-fertilize and produce viable offspring without the need for pollination. This adaptation helps to ensure that the species is able to persist in environments where pollinators are scarce.

Despite its ability to self-fertilize, the Common Twayblade still relies on pollinators for successful reproduction. This highlights the importance of protecting pollinator species and their habitats, as the loss of these insects could have serious consequences for the health and survival of the Common Twayblade and many other plant species.

The Common Twayblade is a fascinating and important species that has much to teach us about the interconnections between plants, pollinators, and the environment. Whether you are a botanist, a conservationist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, this species is well worth taking the time to learn about.

The Common Twayblade is a great example of the diversity of life on our planet and the intricate relationships between different species. It is also a reminder of the importance of protecting our natural habitats, as even the smallest changes can have far-reaching impacts on the plants and animals that live there.

In addition to its ecological importance, the Common Twayblade is also a valuable resource for the pharmaceutical industry. The plant contains a variety of compounds with potential medicinal properties, including alkaloids and flavonoids. Researchers are currently investigating the potential benefits of these compounds for a range of human health conditions, from cancer to heart disease.

For nature enthusiasts, the Common Twayblade is a great plant to seek out on walks and hikes. Although its flowers are small and often overlooked, they are a beautiful sight when seen up close. If you are interested in finding the Common Twayblade, look for it in meadows, grasslands, and along the edges of forests.

Finally, the Common Twayblade is also a valuable resource for education and outreach. By sharing information about this species and its significance, we can help to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our natural habitats and the many species that depend on them.

The Common Twayblade is a fascinating and important species that offers a glimpse into the incredible diversity of life on our planet. Whether you are a botanist, a conservationist, or simply someone who loves nature, this species is well worth taking the time to learn about.

The Common Twayblade is also a great example of the importance of conservation efforts. In many parts of its range, the species is under threat from habitat loss, degradation, and other forms of human disturbance. In order to protect this species and others like it, it is essential that we take action to preserve and restore our natural habitats, and to minimize the impacts of human activities on the environment.

One way that you can help to protect the Common Twayblade is by supporting conservation organizations and initiatives. These organizations work to protect natural habitats, restore damaged ecosystems, and promote sustainable land use practices. By supporting their efforts, you can help to ensure that the Common Twayblade and other species like it will have a secure future.

Another way to support the conservation of the Common Twayblade is by engaging in citizen science initiatives. These programs allow people to contribute to scientific research by collecting data on species and their habitats. By participating in these initiatives, you can help to provide important information that will inform conservation efforts and ensure the long-term survival of the Common Twayblade and other species like it.

Finally, you can also help to protect the Common Twayblade by learning about the species and sharing that knowledge with others. By spreading awareness about the importance of this species and its significance, you can help to encourage others to take action to protect it and other threatened species.

In conclusion, the Common Twayblade is an important species that highlights the need for conservation efforts and the role that individuals can play in protecting our natural heritage. Whether you are a botanist, a conservationist, or simply someone who loves nature, there are many ways that you can help to ensure the survival of this species for future generations.


The Common Twayblade filmed at Scout Scar in Cumbria on the 26th May 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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