Dactylorhiza sambucina 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Orchidales Orchidaceae

Scientific Name: Dactylorhiza sambucina (L.) Soó
Common Name(s):
English Elder-flowered Orchid, Elder-scented Dactylorhiza
Dactylorhiza latifolia (L.) Soó
Orchis sambucina L.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-08-27
Assessor(s): Rankou, H.
Reviewer(s): Fay, M. & Bilz, M.
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

Dactylorhiza sambucina is rather local and is often abundant where it occurs. Although the species is an endangered and strictly protected plant in some countries including Czech Republic, Slovakia and some regions of France, the existing threats for the species and the habitats in Europe are unlikely to cause the populations to decline very fast in the near future. Therefore, Dactylorhiza sambucina is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Dactylorhiza sambucina is endemic to Europe, occurs from central Spain to Crimea, as far south as Sicily, as far north as central Scandinavia. It is found scattered from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, rarely in the west, in the south only in mountain areas, the eastern distribution border runs from the river Dnepr to the Caucasus. This species is found up to 2,600 m altitude (Delforge 1995, Bournérias and Prat 2005).

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sicilia); Latvia; Lithuania; Norway; Poland; Romania; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine (Ukraine (main part))
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:3510575
Upper elevation limit (metres):2600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Dactylorhiza sambucina is rather local and often abundant where it occurs. The population is suspected to be decreasing because of habitat destruction (Delforge 1995, Bournérias and Prat 2005).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Dactylorhiza sambucina it grows in mountain meadows, pastures, forest borders, open woodland, and poor grassland. It prefers alkaline to slightly acid dry to damp soils in full sun light. The flowering takes place from May to June (Delforge 1995, Bournérias and Prat 2005).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The tuber is very nutritious when cooked. It is a source of 'salep', a fine white to yellowish-white powder that is obtained by drying the tuber and grinding it into a powder. Salep is a starch-like substance which can be made into a drink, added to cereals or to bread. It can be prepared in the same way as arrowroot. A jelly can be made from the salep which is used to treat irritations of the gastro-intestinal canal (Plants For a Future 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The habitat of Dactylorhiza sambucina is submitted to numerous anthropogenic threats including drainage, agricultural use of the habitat, urbanization, tourism, trampling, deforestation and plant collection (Delforge 1995, Bournérias and Prat 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

All orchids are included under Annex B of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Dactylorhiza sambucina is a strictly protected plant in some countries, for example the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and is protected at regional level in France.

The following actions are recommended to protect Dactylorhiza sambucina;

  • Protection of the living individuals through legislation which bans the species from being picked or dug up.
  • Protection of the habitat from ploughing, agriculture uses and trampling.
  • Ex situ conservation: Artificial propagation, re-introduction, seed collections.
  • Monitoring and surveillance of the existing populations and sites.
  • Estimate the population size and study their dynamics 
(Delforge 1995, Bournérias and Prat 2005).

Citation: Rankou, H. 2011. Dactylorhiza sambucina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T175983A7162528. . Downloaded on 21 May 2018.
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