Epipactis lusitanica

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae

Epipactis lusitanica

This orchid is named after the Roman word for Portugal - Lusitania, which is where it is most common. Originally classified as Epipactis helleborine it is now thought that two species occur in the region, Epipactis lusitanica and Epipactis tremolsii. The two are very difficult to tell apart, and it is almost certain that intermediates between the two species occur frequently. Both species have adapted to grow in much drier conditions than Broad-leaved Helleborine, which is now not thought to occur in the Algarve at all.

Description

The plant usually produces a single stem which can grow up to 50cm in height. The lower leaves are oval and have wavy margins while the upper ones are narrower and bract-like. The inflorescence is lax and carries from 5-30 flowers that, unlike some other Epipactis species, open fully. The flowers vary in colour from pale greenish-pink to quite dark pink. The cup-like hypochile varies in colour from pale olive green to pale brown.

Distribution

Epipactis lusitanica is found throughout Portugal and is particularly widespread, although localised, in the Algarve. It is also found in Spain, southern France and along the coastal plains of North Africa.

Habitat

This orchid is found in open pine and Cork Oak woodlands.

Flowering times

Epipactis lusitanica flowers in April and May.

The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve in Portugal during early May.

Epipactis lusitanica

Reference sources

The Plant List

Sue Parker (2014) Wild Orchids of the Algarve - how, when and where to find them; First Nature

Sue Parker (2014) Wild Orchids of the Algarve; First Nature

Chris Thorogood and Simon Hiscock (2014) Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Algarve; Kew Publishing

Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black


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