|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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This species was
first described by Tenore from Naples in 1811 and its name refers
to the small number of flowers carried by individual plants.
Whilst this description is generally valid, O. pauciflora can sometimes have a relatively long and dense inflorescence as in photo 10.
Where the plant grows in its preferred habitat of
hilly/mountainous ground in light woodland or scrub. it tends to be short in stature
and few flowered whilst at lower elevations it grows more vigorously
and can frequently reach as much as 30cms.
The range of O.pauciflora is largely the countries bordering the Adriatic as far as Thrace in eastern Greece and with outposts in Corsica, Crete, Sicily and Algeria. The illustrations are from Italy, Crete and Greece all dating from April.
As has already been mentioned above, O. pauciflora will readily hybridize and it's therefore no surprise that a species with which it frequently occurs,
O. quadripunctata is also one of the most commonly experienced crosses ( another being with O. mascula forming O. x colemanii ). The following three
photos are all from high up on Mount Hymettus near Athens. In this particular area there was a high incidence of hybridisation but despite considerable
study, all plants so affected, were noted to have retained far more O. pauciflora characteristics than of O. quadripunctata. It is entirely possible that
this population was in fact a rare occurence of Orchis hybridogeny similar to that more frequently seen with Serapius and Dactylorhiza.