John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Anacamptis papilionacea v heroica


The  A. papilionacea  group is a  small  and  highly distinct  collection of orchids that cannot be readily mistaken for any other.  It consists of just three species,  A. papilionacea  itself,  A. cyrenica  and  A. collina  but although they share a family resemblance and configuration,  they could not easily be confused. The A. papilionacea group are  enthusiastic hybridizers and notably with members of the closely related A. morio group.

Unfortunately, whilst it may be comparatively easy to identify a plant as being a member of the papilionacea species, determining exactly which variety or variant within that species is a much more  problematic process.  In truth it would be a brave botanist who would ever bet his mortgage on the certain identity of any of them.

A. 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 and regional anomalies to give a complete range of definitive descriptions. Heroica however is named after the heroes of the Trojan war and fittingly is endemic to Greece, apart from a small diaspora that settled across the Aegean in Anatolia. This variety was in fact first described in 1812 from the archeological site of Troy.  It is a sturdy, dense flowered plant with a large lip very reminiscent of variety  grandiflora , except that the neck of the lip is markedly less flared and gives  the  flower a  round  shouldered appearance when compared to the square shoulders of grandiflora.  These two varieties have overlapping ranges and must undoubtedly produce intermediates.  

All the photographs here are from the Aegean and date from the end of March.







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