John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Orchis species Links

Orchis punctulata

This species was first described from the Crimea (Russia) in 1835 and is a member of the eleven  strong  O. militaris group. Its name refers to the red spotting on the flowers.
O. punctulata is undoubtedly one of Europes most impressive orchids and also one of its rarest with an eastern Mediterranean range from Greece in the west to Iran in the east. It is perhaps most familiar to Western European orchidologists as one of the specialties of the island of Cyprus where it seems destined to become still rarer due to habitat loss from apparently unrestricted tourist development.

Its stronghold on the island is in the hills of the Akamas peninsula where with perserverance it is still quite possible to encounter the species without specialist site information. Its main sites seem to be reasonably well known and frequently visited in early March, although this close attention doesn't seem to be particularly detrimental and as already mentioned, the threat from development associated with Cyprus's tourist industry is far more challenging. The pictures accomanying this text are from a site containing some 50 plants but which was within just two hundred yards of coastal apartment complexes.

The species is reasonably variable and most particularly in the flower colouration which can vary from an almost lime green to a much darker reddish, brown. The variant sepulchris from Anatolia has secondary lobes (arms and legs) that can be almost completely of this latter colouration.  Photo 11 depicts a plant that although from Cyprus, seems to be some way down the evolutionary road towards variant status.

O. punctulata is a beautiful and statuesque Orchis that can reach to nearly 100 cms thus putting it very much in the same league as some of the Himantoglossums .