John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Orchis langei
 

O. langei is a member of the large O. mascula group and was first described by Richter from Madrid, Spain  in 1890. It is named in honour of J. M. C Lange, an eminent Danish botanist of the 19th century . 

It is a western Mediterranean species found predominantly in the Iberian peninsula, extending north to the Pyrenees of southern France and southwards to the middle Atlas of Morocco. O. langei will tolerate a range of conditions but is at its most frequent in mid shade on slightly acidic but rarely on calcareous soils and its for this reason that colonies can often be found in isolated areas, with very few other orchid species present.

Its close relationship to O. mascula is clear but although broadly similar there are two key features which convincingly differentiate it. The first of these is the lip of the flower which possesses a marked kink in
the centre, reminiscent of a knee joint.  The second is the inflorescence which is very lax and would
typically contain half the number of individual flowers as compared to a similar sized O. mascula. Another less diagnostic feature of O. langei  is the leaves which are usually lightly marked with reddish or purple spots or blotches.

Given that O. mascula will happily grow in similar conditions on slightly acidic or siliceous soils it is not at
all uncommon to find them growing side by side and this can present considerable problems with certain
identification, due to hybridization.

The photographs come from Navarra, Spain, dating from the end of April.