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

S. parviflora was first described by Parlatore from Palermo, Sicily in 1837, its name appropriately means small-flowered and is one of three species that make up the S. parviflora group.

S. parviflora is usually a relatively easy Serapias to distinguish, though on occasion small flowered forms of S. bergonii can create problems of identification. This is not a particularly varied orchid and the overall configifuration of the hood and flower is distinctive. Flower colour is however variable and as can be seen from the pictures, it is one of several Serapias species that due to anthocyanin deficiency can often appear pale or yellowish. Flowers completely lacking this vascular pigmentation are rare (see pictures 4 and 5).

This is not a common species and unlike many of its relatives is rarely found in large colonies. For this reason it is probably an under recorded plant, being overlooked amongst drifts of its more prolific cousins. Its range is large, covering a similar area to that of S. lingua  IE :- from Spain and Portugal through North Africa and the Mediterranean to the Aegean but also including an unusual Atlantic outpost in the Canary Islands. Another and more surprising outpost is in the UK, on the coast of Cornwall, though whether its hop across the English Channel from Brittany was natural or assisted is a matter of considerable debate. Unfortunately, no matter how the species found its way to the UK, its adopted site is far from secure and agricultural pressures are now jeopardizing the plants future.

The illustrations come from various locations throughout the Mediterranean and they all date from April. though the species may be found in flower right through to June.