John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Anacamptis papilionacea v papilionacea f.rubra

The A. papilionacea group is a small and highly distinct collection of orchids that cannot be easily mistaken for any other and consisting of just three species A. papilionacea itself, A. cyrenica and A. collina. Although they share a family resemblance and configuration, they cannot be confused with one another. Interestingly, although A. papilionacea readily hybridizes, particularly with members of the the A. morio group, it has rarely been recorded crossing with either A. cyrenica or A. collina.

Unfortunately, whilst it's comparatively easy to identify a plant as being a member of the papilionacea grouping, determining exactly which variety or form within that species is a much more problematic process. A. papilionacea is considered to be of polymorphic origin 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 offer complete definitive descriptions of all the variations. A. papilionacea v rubra is however quite distinct.

It is primarily known from Italy, though it has been reported from the former Yugoslavian states and Anatolia. The most significant differentiating feature is the lip in which the markings are either absent or indistinct and often very pale in colour, occasionally pure white. It also has a noticeably waxy appearance and as a result of the way in which the lip edges curve forward, seems rather more elongated than the lips of other A. papilionacea varieties.

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