Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
This tongue orchid is a rather spindly plant and grows to around 35cm tall. There are narrow pointed leaves at the base and a few further bracts occur along the stem. The inflorescence is lax and carries up to 5 medium-sized (smaller than S. vomeracea and larger than S. parviflora) flowers which are dark red. The lip is between 15 - 30mm in length and coated in the centre with dense pale hairs. It would be difficult to spot Serapias strictiflora if it were not for the fact that it can occur in large numbers in its preferred habitat. It is similar in appearance to S. gregaria whose name reflects this tendency to grow in dense groups.
Serapias strictiflora is thought to be a hybrid derived from the Tongue Orchid Serapias Lingua and the Small-flowered Tongue Orchid Serapias parviflora both of which occur in the Algarve, along with Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid Serapias cordigera.
Serapias strictiflora is common in the Algarve region of Portugal and is also recorded from Morocco, Algeria and Andalucia.
The best place to look for this orchid is on grassy roadside verges and in the barrocal away from the coast.
It flowers from late March through to the end of April or even early May.
The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve in April.
The Plant List
Chris Thorogood and Simon Hiscock (2014) Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Algarve; Kew Publishing
Sue Parker (2014) Wild Orchids of the Algarve - how , when and where to find them; First Nature
Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black
Les Orchidees de France, Belgique et Luxemborg; Parthenope Collection
If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...