The Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica)
Orchis italica, or the Naked Man Orchid, is of the family Orchidaceae, and is native to the Mediterranean, having bright pink, densely clustered flowers growing up to 50 centimeters in height, growing commonly in large clusters.
In Italy, it is believed that the consumption of the plant is good for virility (likely because the shape of the flower petals mimics the shape of a naked man), but it is indeed a hearty plant food. The root is a large bulb (up to one foot in diameter), which is rich in a starch-like powder known as salep, which has a sweetish taste and an unpleasant smell. It is highly nutritious and can be made into a drink, added to cereals, or made into bread. It has medicinal values and is used to treat irritations in the gastrointestinal canal. Most, if not the entire plant are edible with no known hazards.
The plant flowers from April to May. They are hermaphroditic and pollinate each other on the same cluster with the help of wind and insects. It can be grown in gardens but is difficult due to it actually thriving in lower nutrient soil and partial shade.
Watch the video below to learn more about this interesting plant.