John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Anacamptis species Links

Anacamptis papilionacea ssp rubra



The A. papilionacea group consists of just two species, A. papilionacea itself, commonly known as the Pink Butterfly Orchid and
the Fan Lipped Orchid, A. collina. The former is a polymorphic species with a wide distribution and these factors unsurprisingly give rise to a significant range of natural and regional variations. First described by Linnaeus as long ago as 1759, the taxon has been intensely studied ever since, leading to the recognition of many forms and the creation of a list of synonyms far too extensive to detail in these pages (no less than 67 in 2013). A genetic study in 1993 comparing sub-species grandiflora, papilionacea and aegaea (then heroica) determined that the minimal genetic difference's discovered, were consistent with nothing more than separate geographic populations within a single cohesive gene pool and that they could not be regarded as sub-species, merely simple morphs. These findings were not universally accepted and new taxa continue to emerge.

A. papilionacea ssp rubra is primarily known from Italy, though it has been reported from some of the former Yugoslavian states and Anatolia. These reports are however subject to confirmation in light of the presence of the newly described and similar A. papilionacea ssp balcanica in these areas. As with this latter taxon, the most significant differentiating feature is the lip, in which the markings are either absent or extremely indistinct but which unlike balcanica are noticeably divided by a central ridge, forming two separate lobes. These lateral lobes are strongly reflexed forward, thus creating the impression of an elongated, narrow lip, quite distinct to most other A. papilionacea forms. Colouration is usually pale with a waxy quality that contrasts significantly with the dark semi enclosed hood.

The photographs come from southern Italy, dating from the last week of April.











.