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Anacamptis morio ssp caucasica

This recently recognized subspecies of A. morio was formally described and named as ssp caucasica in 2007 by Kretzschmar, Eccarius and Dietyr, though it is also known by the synonyms A. morio ssp albanica and Heroica caucasica.

Its range is somewhat uncertain but as its name suggests, is widespread throughout the Caucasus, the near east, Balkans and has most recently been discovered in the islands of the Aegean and adjacent Turkish coast. It seems likely that A. morio ssp caucasica is distributed more widely than this and further discoveries will almost certainly follow.

The principle differences between this species and A. morio itself are as follows :- 1. The flower is smaller. 2. The lateral lobes of the lip are usually more tightly folded back. 3. The inflorescence generally carries more individual flowers. 4. The median lobe of the lip is longer than the lateral lobes. This is perhaps the most significant differentiating characteristic and the final two photographs serve to illustrate this point.

Picture 8 is A. morio ssp caucasica and 9 is A. morio, the difference in lobe configuration is apparent. With the similar and debateable A. picta the lobes tend to be of similar lengths but are always flared rather than folded back. Another worthwhile if not diagnostic feature of ssp caucasica is the overall appearance of the plant which tends to be tall, slender stemmed and with a neat and fairly compact spike of small flowers. The first picture illustrates this point very well.

The photos are all from Lesbos and date from early April.