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The fragrant orchid smells like vanilla. It is legally protected. This rare plant (for the Netherlands) is practically only found in young dune slacks on the Wadden Islands and in infertile grasslands in South Limburg. If the soil becomes deficient in calcium, the fragrant orchid will disappear among the vegetation. This orchid sometimes blossoms in relatively large numbers. Compared to the length of the stem, the flower spike is often quite long. The six-spot burnet moth is one of the most important pollinators of this plant. In Dutch, the fragrant orchid is called 'greater mosquito orchid'. Each individual flower resembles this insect.

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