|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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This is a member of the 23 strong O. mascula group whose name refers to the area of France from where
it was first described in 1806.
O. provincialis is a widespread and common member of the Orchis genus with a distribution that covers
virtually all the Mediterranean countries, through the Aegean to Turkey and beyond as far as Russia. It
may grow in extensive but usually loose colonies though is never abundant. As with many of its fellow
group members and not least O. mascula itself, this species shows a distinct preference for high ground, neutral soils and light woodland.
There are several other species for which it can be initially mistaken, perhaps the two most common of
these being O. pauciflora and D. romana both of which share considerable overlaps in range. Close
inspection will however quickly differentiate them and probably the biggest single feature to look for is
the bold spotting of the leaves of O.provincialis which is completely absent from the other two species. Additionally it lacks the bracts of D. romana and is a very much paler yellow than O. pauciflora. It can in
fact frequently be virtually white and often lack the red spots which normally charactererize the the lip
of the flower.
As mentioned above, flowering can start as early as mid March in Algeria and Southern Greece but be in
flower as late as June in Germany, Switzerland and Russia. The photos come from the Cilento National
Park (Italy), Lesbos, Chios and Sicily and were all taken during the month of April, with the Italian examples being the latest (20/4/2007).