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

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).