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Orchis cazorlensis

O. cazorlensis was first described from Jaen, Spain by Lacaita in 1930 and its name refers to its initial
discovery in the Sierra de Cazorla mountains. It is a member of the large O. mascula group of Orchis and
is closely related to O. spitzelli, an orchid to which it bears a close resemblance.

This species is endemic to southern and central Spain and although very localized can be quite plentiful in
its preferred stations. It is an orchid of higher altitudes where as with O. spitzelii it requires a position
that sees full snow cover in the winter. Another requirement shared with its close relative is a preference
for open woodland with a thick understory of course vegetation through which to grow and presumably
provide protection. In both species Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a regular associated taxon.

Despite the morphological similarites between the two species they are unlikely to be confused due to significantly different distributions, with O. spitzelli occupying a more northerly (and very disjunct) range
from the Pyrenees to the Alps and then reappearing in Gotland (Sweden).  It further extends eastwards   erratically through to the Balkans, Anatolia and Lebanon. O. cazorlensis however is restricted to central
and southern Spain, with northern Spain acting as a buffer zone that is not populated by either species.

O. cazorlensis is shorter, spindlier plant than O. spitzelii with flowers that lack the purple colouration,
being much paler and in some cases actually unspotted white. The example depicted in the first picture is
relatively unusual in the depth of its purple hue.

The pictures are from the Cuenca region of Spain and date from the middle of April.