John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Orchis anthropophora x simia


O. anthropophora  was first described from France in 1753 and until recently had been placed in a genus of its own, Aceras.  The primary reason for this isolation was cited as its lack of a spur but subsequent molecular studies revealed that despite this, it was definitely an Orchis and further,  that it was very closely related to O. simia. The frequency of hybridization with O. simia and O. militaris had already been noted and consequently the studies results really come as no great surprise to the majority of experts. Man Orchid (as it has always been commonly known) is now reclassified within the eleven strong O. militaris group of Orchis.

O. anthropophora  has a widespread range from Britain and Northern France, through most of Europe down to North Africa and across to Syria in the east. It can be rare in some parts of this range but it's generally a common species without ever being abundant. Clearly the occurrence of hybridization is subject to the existence and numbers of suitable donors within its range and by far the most common unions are as already mentioned, with O. simia and O. militarisIn Britain, hybrids are very scarce and this is due largely to the extreme rarity of suitable Orchis partners. The main regions where hybrids happen are therefore and somewhat obviously, those where multiple Orchis species occur in large numbers and in close association. This is predominently France, Italy and Greece though by no means exclusively.

The pictures are from the Var and Cevenne regions of France and it can be seen that in these examples at least, the plants have inherited the longer inflorescence of O. anthropophora but with colour and flower formation closer to O. simia. Hybrids with this latter species can usually be distinguished from those of O. militaris by the lack of a male "appendage".







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