Fragrant Haendelwurz

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Fragrant Haendelwurz
The fragrant Händelwurz (Gymnadenia odoratissima) in the Swabian Alb

The fragrant Händelwurz ( Gymnadenia odoratissima )
in the Swabian Alb

Family : Orchids (orchidaceae)
Subfamily : Orchidoideae
Tribe : Orchideae
Sub tribus : Orchidinae
Genre : Handelwurzen ( Gymnadenia )
Type : Fragrant Haendelwurz
Scientific name
Gymnadenia odoratissima
( L. ) Rich.

The Fragrant Händelwurz ( Gymnadenia odoratissima ), also fragrance fragrant orchid called, is a plant of the genus gymnadenia ( Gymnadenia ) within the family of orchid plants (Orchidaceae).


Vegetative characteristics

The fragrant Handelwurz is a perennial herbaceous plant and reaches heights of between 15 and 30 centimeters. This geophyte forms two bulbs, divided in the shape of a hand, as persistence organs. The leaves are linear.

Generative characteristics

The flowering period extends from June to August. The fragrant Händelwurz is characterized by intensely scented vanilla-like flowers. The hermaphrodite flowers are zygomorphic and threefold. The bracts are white to purple in color. The horizontal to slightly downwardly curved spur is shorter than the ovary with a length of 4 to 6 millimeters .

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 40.


The fragrant Händelwurz in Estonia
White blooming fragrant Handelwurz
Fruit cluster

With the vanilla-like scent of its flowers, with their adhesive discs and with the nectar produced in the spur, the fragrant Händelwurz is prepared for insect pollination . 44 volatile aromatic substances that attracted butterflies were identified by gas chromatography . Benzyl acetate , benzaldehyde , phenylethanal , 1-phenyl-2,3-butanedione, phenylethyl acetate, eugenol and an unidentified component acted as attractants. The smell of the mosquito-handelwurz , spread in the distribution area of ​​the fragrant hendelwurz, could not attract pollinators for the mosquito-handelwurz. In a day-night rhythm , the examined flower types gave off different attracting aromas.

Little is known about the exact pollinators ; are mentioned: thick-headed fly , bug and borer . 25 butterfly species could be identified. In Baden-Württemberg, the ram is probably the main pollinator. It picks up the pollinia at the base of the head and the trunk. With the help of its long trunk it can also pollinate the flowers. Thus the formation of hybrids with Gymnadenia conopsea is preprogrammed.

The fruit set is practically complete in relation to the lower and middle flowers, the upper ones usually wither.


The fragrant Händelwurz is a European floral element . Its main area of ​​distribution is in the Limestone Alps . Its area extends westward to northern Spain , northward to central Germany , southern Sweden and the Baltic States and eastward to Belarus and the Ukraine . It is absent in Central Europe in the lowlands as well as in sand and silicate areas . Otherwise it is rare in Central Europe, but it often occurs at its locations in smaller, loose, but fairly individual populations.

In Austria , the fragrant Haendelwurz is scattered in all federal states (absent in Vienna and Burgenland ). It thrives from the montane to the subalpine (alpine) altitude .

In the area of ​​the Bohemian Massif as well as in the Pannonian area the fragrant Handelwurz endangered.

The plant species, which always grows over limestone , prefers grasslands , pine forests, wet and wet meadows, flat and spring moors as locations . The fragrant Händelwurz inhabits light pine forests, bushes, swamp meadows or dry grass , under which pressure water seeps through . It is a character species of the Erico-Pinion association, but also occurs in plant communities of the Mesobromion, Molinion or the order Seslerietalia.

It rises in the Alps to altitudes of 2500 meters. In the Allgäu Alps, it occurs in the Tyrolean part of the Jöchelspitze up to an altitude of 2200 meters. According to Baumann and Künkele , the fragrant Händelwurz has the following altitude limits in the Alpine countries: Germany 90 to 2200 meters, France 180 to 2437 meters, Switzerland 390 to 2600 meters, Liechtenstein 430 to 2350 meters, Austria 325 to 2300 meters, Italy 15 to 2600 meters, Slovenia 60 to 2060 meters. The borders in Europe are between 15 and 2600 meters.

The fragrant Händelwurz thrives on calcareous, even calcareous , but not very humus-infused soils that should be damp at times. It makes higher demands on the lime content and the alkaline reaction of the soil than mosquito-handelwort ( Gymnadenia conopsea ). It may also be less able to withstand disturbances (e.g. nitrogen inputs) at its locations. While the Mosquito-Haendelwurz often populates, for example, newly created embankments, new settlements in the Fragrant Haendelwurz are hardly known.

Hybrids with other species

The fragrant Handelwurz forms hybrids with the mosquito-Handelwurz ( Gymnadenia conopsea ), the common cabbage rose ( Nigritella rhellicani ) and (very rarely) with the white Höswurz ( Pseudorchis albida ).


  • Manfred A. Fischer , Wolfgang Adler, Karl Oswald: Excursion flora for Austria, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol. 2nd, improved and enlarged edition. State of Upper Austria, Biology Center of the Upper Austrian State Museums, Linz 2005, ISBN 3-85474-140-5 .
  • Oskar Angerer, Thomas Muer: Alpine plants (= Ulm nature guide). Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2004, ISBN 3-8001-3374-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Gymnadenia odoratissima (L.) Rich., Fragrant Handelwurz. In:
  2. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas. 8th edition. Stuttgart, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 2001. ISBN 3-8001-3131-5
  3. a b c d Franz K. Huber, Roman Kaiser, Willi Sauter, Florian P. Schiestl: Floral scent emission and pollinator attraction in two species of Gymnadenia (Orchidaceae). In: Oecologia , Volume 142, 2005, pp. 564-575, doi : 10.1007 / s00442-004-1750-9 ( PDF ).
  4. ^ A b Oskar Sebald, Siegmund Seybold, Georg Philippi, Arno Wörz (eds.): The fern and flowering plants of Baden-Württemberg. Volume 8: Special part (Spermatophyta, subclasses Commelinidae part 2, Arecidae, Liliidae part 2): Juncaceae to Orchidaceae. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-8001-3359-8 .
  5. a b c d e f g h Dietmar Aichele, Heinz-Werner Schwegler: The flowering plants of Central Europe . 2nd Edition. tape 5 : Swan flowers to duckweed plants . Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-440-08048-X .
  6. Erhard Dörr, Wolfgang Lippert : Flora of the Allgäu and its surroundings. Volume 1, IHW, Eching 2001, ISBN 3-930167-50-6 , p. 381.
  7. a b Helmut Baumann , Siegfried Künkele : Orchidaceae . In: Oskar Sebald et al .: The fern and flowering plants of Baden-Württemberg. 1st edition Volume 8, page 348. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-8001-3359-8 .

Web links

Commons : Fragrant Händelwurz ( Gymnadenia odoratissima )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files