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Gymnadenia cenisia
 

G. cenisia was first described by G. Foelsche, W. Foelsche, M. Gerbaud and O. Gerbaud from the Rhone Alps in 1999 though its status has been the subject of several reclassifications over the years and it consequently enjoys several synonyms, including G. rhellicani var robusta (Delforge) 2003.

The plants specific name refers to Mont Cenis, a mountain in the south east of France close to the Italian border and where this species is at its most frequent. It has a limited distribution from Isere eastwards into the Italian Alps west of Turin and is decidedly local, albeit plentiful in its favoured sites. It prefers alpine grassland on calcareous formations where it can be found growing between 1800 and 2500 metres, often in the company of G. rhellicani and G. corneliana.     


G. cenisia is a robust plant with a study stem and tall inflorescence that is less conical and contains more individual flowers than either of the two previously named species.  Colouration is similar to that of G. rhellicani but generally a shade lighter, though the flower buds are similarly blackish. Another feature it has in common with G. rhellicani is prolific nectar production and it's known to attract numerous insects, with more than fifty of them recognized as pollinators.  Interestingly a high proportion of these pollinators are various species of the many butterflies that thrive in the high alpine pastures.

G. cenisia is known to readily hybridize with other members of the genus and has been recorded crossing with G. rhellicani, G. corneliana, G. conopsea and G. albida.  The pictures  are from the Ecrins National Park to the east of Grenoble and date from the  10th of July.