John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Gennaria diphylla


G. diphylla was first described from Setubal, Portugal in 1800 and its name refers to the distinctive pair of leaves on the lower stem. Despite having been well known for more than two centuries, it never seems to have acquired a widely used common name, this perhaps reflects the relative anonymity of this somewhat drab orchid.

The distribution of this species is entirely restricted to the western Mediterranean and Canary Islands where throughout its range it's rare and often extremely so. It is at its most frequent in the Canary Islands, although even here it absent from the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzerote.  Sardinia, Corsica and Tunisia also support small and declining populations. In the warmer parts of its range it can be in flower as early as January, though more normally late February and March.

G. diphylla is a uniform green/yellow colour which is easily overlooked in the usually shady conditions it prefers. Its usual choice of habitat is open pinewood, grassy banks and rocky outcrops where it happily grows through often very narrow fissures. It isn't particularly fussy about soil PH but tends to avoid positions in extremes of either acid or alkaline bases.

The accompanying picture is from a small colony surviving in a large limestone quarry near Coin in Southern Spain. As can be seen, at the time of the visit in late March, the plants were already in fruit.