John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Anacamptis longicornu
 

This species was first described from Algeria in 1789 and its name (long-horn) refers to the length of the spur.  It has spent most of its  scientific existence as an Orchis in the O. morio  group but recent studies have determined that it more correctly belongs with the genus Anacamptis.

It is a distinguished and  highly attractive plant that has a largely southern Mediterranean distribution covering the Balearic Islands, Malta, Corsica, Sicily, sothern Italy and north Africa. In  much of its range it's a rare orchid but in Mallorca it's comparitively common and in Sicily, although sometimes local, can be abundant.

A. longicornu is easily recognizable as an A. morio group member but is unlikely to be confused with either A. morio or A. picta as it shows several clear distinguishing features. Like its close relatives, it exhibits a  strong propensity to vary in colour and can be found in forms that at one end of the scale are reminiscent of A. morio and at the other (and more typically)  have a deep purple lip that contrasts strongly with a very pale, sometimes white hood.  Hypochromatic plants are relatively common.

Where a plant superficially resembles A. morio the differentiating factor is the spur, in A. longicornu it is noticeably longer than the lip whereas the spur in A. morio and A. picta is shorter. The shape of the spur also differs in that it is thickened  at the end and reminiscent of a small club (when viewed from the front).

The pictures are from Sicily and Mallorca and it's interesting to note that the examples from the latter  island (photos 1,3 and 8) show much greater colour contrast than the Sicillian plants.