To identify a plant, it is necessary first to determine its genus. This key help to identify French orchid genera, by following step by step a series of alternative choices related to specimen features. For a reliable identification, it is more prudent to use a representative sample of a population rather than an isolated specimen.

Start with step 1 or 1' depending on whether the specimen has green leaves or not, then continue to the number that corresponds to the feature fitting to the specimen to identify, then go to the next choice and so up to the genus name is indicated. At each step the characters on which the choice is based are underlined. Then click on the genus name or its image, this will open the genus page where more detailed descriptions are given, so that it will be easier to identify the species. In some cases, the description corresponds to only some of the species of the considered genus, then these particular species are mentionned. If the genus comprises only one species, this species is also indicated and signalled by a *.


n
Description
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1
Orchid without green leaves
2
1'
Orchids with green leaves
5
     
2
No green leaves, labellum divided, stem and flowers light brown Neottia : Neottia nidus-avis
2'
No green leaves and non-lobed labellum.
3
     
3
No green leaves, non-lobed labellum upwardly directed Epipogium : Epipogium aphyllum*
3'
No green leaves, non-lobed labellum and not oriented upwardly
4
     
4
No green leaves, slender plant predominantly purple, flower with non-lobed and not erected labellum Limodorum
4'
No green leaves, small plant with a non-lobed, not erected and white pink-spotted labellum Corallorhiza : Corallorhiza trifida*
     
5
Generally two green leaves (rarely three)
6
5'
Regularly more than two green leaves
11
     
6
Two green leaves, practically opposite
7
6'
Two green leaves, alternate, yellowish green plant Gennaria : Gennaria diphylla*
     
7
Two green leaves, practically opposite, without spur
8
7'
Two green leaves, practically opposite, filiform spur longer than the ovary Platanthera
     
8
Two green leaves, practically opposite, without spur, non-lobed labellum and oriented upwardly
9
8'
Two green leaves, practically opposite, without spur, divided labellum and oriented downwardly
10
     
9
Two green leaves (very rarely three), practically opposite, without spur, non-lobed labellum and oriented upwardly, straight with sharp end Hammarbya : Hammarbya palustris*
9'
Two green leaves (very rarely three), practically opposite, without spur, non-lobed labellum and oriented upwardly, curved and oval shaped Liparis : Liparis loeselii*
     
10
Two green leaves, practically opposite, without spur, divided labellum and oriented downwardly, flowers like small yellowish-green bells Herminium : Herminium monorchis*
10'
Two green leaves, practically opposite, without spur, divided labellum and oriented downwardly, hanging and longer labellum than the perianth Neottia : Neottia cordata & Neottia ovata
     
11
Numerous green leaves, basal, very narrow, looking like blades of grass, small plant (less than 30 cm)
12
11'
More than two green leaves, wider and with a different aspect
13
     
12
Numerous green leaves, basal, very narrow, yellow-greenish flowers, labellum oriented downwardly Chamorchis : Chamorchis alpina*
12'
Numerous green leaves, basal, very narrow, pale pink to red flowers, small, globular to conical and very dense inflorescence, labellum oriented upwardly Gymnadenia : group Nigritellidae
     
13
More than two green leaves, marked with a network of interlaced nervures, small white flowers Goodyera : Goodyera repens*
13'
More than two green leaves, with parallel nervures,
14
     
14
More than two green leaves, plant bearing 1 or 2 big flowers with a voluminous yellow labellum in shape of hoof Cypripedium : Cypripedium calceolus*
14'
More than two green leaves, different inflorescence
15
     
15
More than two green leaves, inflorescence helically wound, white flowers Spiranthes
15'
More than two green leaves, different inflorescence
16
     
16
More than two green leaves, labellum articulated into two parts separated by a constriction
17
16'
More than two green leaves, labellum not articulated
19
     
17
More than two green leaves, labellum articulated into two parts, the inner part being a glossy cupule Epipactis
17'
More than two green leaves, labellum articulated into two parts, the inner part not being a glossy cupule
18
     
18
More than two green leaves, articulate labellum, upper bracts grayish, streaked with red Serapias
18'
More than two green leaves, articulate labellum with yellowish longitudinal crests, green bracts similar to the leave color Cephalanthera
     
19
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, with a hairy aspect resembling an insect Ophrys
19'
More than two green leaves, labellum with a different aspect
20
     
20
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum with an undulated outer edge, high plant Himantoglossum
20'
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum with a different shape
21
     
21
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, slender high plant (more than 30 cm), globular and pink inflorescence, sepal ends enlarged and flattened resembling a spatula Traunsteinera : Traunsteinera globosa*
21'
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, rather cylindrical or conical inflorescence, flower differently shaped
22
     
22
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts much longer than the ovary with a texture similar to that of leaves
23
22'
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary
24
     
23
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts much longer than the ovary with a texture similar to that of leaves, indented labellum, broadened to the lower third, globally greenish to yellowish-green plant Coeloglossum : Coeloglossum viride*
23'
More than two green leaves, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts much longer than the ovary with a texture similar to that of leaves, plant with a different aspect Dactylorhiza
     
24
More than two green leaves not forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary
25
24'
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary
27
     
25
More than two green leaves not forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, loose inflorescence Anacamptis : Anacamptis laxiflora & Anacamptis palustris
25'
More than two green leaves not forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, dense inflorescence with numerous small flowers
26
     
26
More than two green leaves not forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, dense inflorescence with numerous white small flowers Pseudorchis : Pseudorchis albida*
26'
More than two green leaves not forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, dense inflorescence with numerous pink small flowers Gymnadenia : group Gymnadenidae
     
27
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending
28
27'
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur absent or less than 10 mm, lateral sepals joined forming a helmet
29
     
28
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending trilobate labellum, uniform in color, with two small crests at the base Anacamptis : Anacamptis pyramidalis and related
28'
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, labellum with different characteristics Orchis : group mascula
     
29
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, rather large flowers
30
29'
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, rather small flowers
31
     
30
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, rather large flowers, labellum resembling a human silhouette Orchis : group militaris
30'
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, rather large flowers, labellum with a different shape Anacamptis : Anacamptis morio, Anacamptis papilionacea and related
     
31
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, rather small flowers, sepals and petals joined forming a compact hood with a single sharply pointed tip Anacamptis : Anacamptis coriophora and related
31'
More than two green leaves forming a rosette, non articulate labellum, inflorescence rather cylindrical or conical, lower bracts shorter than the ovary, spur more than 10 mm, lateral sepals spreading to ascending, rather small flowers, sepals and petals joined forming a looser hood with more separated tips Neotinea

* : Genus with a single species

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