John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Gymnadenia corneliana f vesubiana
 

This form of G. corneliana was first described as Nigratella corneliana var vesubiana by Keller and was subsequently reduced in rank to Gymnadenia corneliana f vesubiana by Delforge. The taxon has been the subject of much expert opinion and consequently enjoys a range of synonyms but notwithstanding the larger debate regarding the priority of Gymnadenia or Nigratella, the Delforge version is arguably the most widely accepted.

This is undoubtedly a most attractive form of what is already a handsome orchid and is often difficult to distinguish when growing (as it usually does) amid large numbers of the type species. G. corneliana and thus vesubiana is confined to the western Alps, and is at its most frequent in the south east of France from the Chartreuse Mountains north of Grenoble eastwards to the border and into western Italy where it becomes much less common. Vesubiana is an extremely rare form though as already mentioned, undoubtedly somewhat overlooked.

It typically exhibits an elongated hemispherical, inflorescence of medium sized flowers in which
the perianth is connivent, forming an open central tube into which can be seen the pale coloured reproductive organs. Unlike the pale pink and dark red shading of G. corneliana, vesubiana is an overall pure white which shades marginally to light pink in the top third of the inflorescence. The final picture depicts an example of a specimen which does not really fit the vesubiana desription but neither is it characteristic of the type species.

The pictures are from the Col du Galibier, dating from the first week of July.