John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Serapias bergonii


This is  undoubtedly the most frequently encountered Serapias in the eastern Mediterranean and it's surprising therefore that the plant has only been known as a distinct species/sub-species for just over a century, having first been described from Corfu in 1908 and named after the French botanist Monsieur P. Bergon.

Much of its recorded existence has been spent as a subspecies to either S. cordigera or later S. vomeracea  and in both cases as ssp laxiflora. There are a number of authorities who remain sceptical about bergonii's full species status and it's certainly true that in some populations, differentiating this plant from other Serapias species can be all but impossible.

This is due in no small part to hybridization, which over the years has contributed to the creation of large number of intermediate swarms, though even in colonies that seem free from genetic interference, variation can be significant. An interesting characteristic of S. bergonii is that together with S. orientalis, it seems far more prone to hypochromy than its cousins, it also demonstrates a predisposition towards low anthocyanin production which leads to very pale, often yellowish colouration.

S. bergonii is generally shorter and less robust than S. vomeracea but the key feature distinguishing the two, is the length of the bracts relative to the hood. In this species the height of the bract is no more than twice that of the hood whereas in S. vomeracea the relationship can be closer to three times, creating a distinctive appearance reminiscent of church spires rising from a town skyline, though this is most apparent in younger plants, becoming less obvious in older, taller specimens.

The illustrations here are from Gargano, Attica, Lesbos, Chios and Crete, all dating from April.







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