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

Anacamptis papilionacea v grandiflora

The O. papilionacea group has been the subject of research for many years and eventually, together with the O. morio, O. palustris and O. coriophora group orchids have now been reclassified within the previously single member Anacamptis genus.

A. papilionacea v grandiflora was first formally desribed from Seville in 1842 and its varietal name refers appropriately to the large size of the flower. The species Papilionacea is considered polymorphic and as such, formal recognition of forms and varieties becomes a somewhat arbitrary process. Differences largely occur in flower size, pattern or colour but there are simply too many exceptions, intermediates and regional anomalies to attribute scientifically sound ranking. Considerable range overlaps and consequent hybridization render it all but impossible to provide completely accurate descriptions.

Grandiflora, although variable is one of the more easily distinguished varieties and a good place to study this plant is in Sicily where it is the sole papilionacea representative (though some variant forms are recognized). This is a tall, large flowered plant very similar to the Greek variety heroica but not generally as robust or the inflorescence as dense. The flowers themselves are square shouldered at the neck of the lip whereas heroica appears more rounded. Grandiflora's range is largely western Mediterranean but is reported to reach as far as Crete and Anatolia, though this may well be due to confusion with the Aegean populations of heroica.

The pictures are all from Sicily with the exception of photo 5 which comes from Gargano and is not a typical  specimen, the lack of striation on the lip suggests genetic interaction with rubra.   

The following photos are from Sicily and depict hybrids with A. morio.