The Gargano, Puglia with a like minded blogger in search of orchids

Last Wednesday saw us leave home early for the drive down to the Gargano in Puglia to meet with Chloris of The Blooming Garden who was spending a holiday there. We are both posting about the experience at the same time so you can overdose on orchids by reading both our posts.

The Gargano is known to be one of the top sights in the world for wild flowers and this is the season.  For those unsure where the Gargano is situated it is the spur that sticks out from the Italian boot; at one time it was an island and so there are several species of plants and animals that are special and only found there.

Chloris and her husband were waiting for us when we arrived and so with the impatience that only the passionate plant hunter will understand we set off almost immediately.

We saw many wonderful wild flowers, but I’m going to share with you just the orchids today.  Chloris is a very knowledgeable plants woman so I felt especially lucky sharing time with her; our respective partners were relatively tolerant of our constant squeals of delight as we found a new (or possible new) flower.

Before we even arrived at the hotel, on a road that only Goggle maps would use, my husband said “you should start looking for orchids now” – actually I had been looking already but within about 1 minute of him saying this I could hardly believe that we were driving past a small field with tall stems of Orchis purpurea, The Lady Orchid.

Orchis purpurea, The Lady Orchid

This was the tallest orchid we found standing at about 75 cm.

Orchis purpurea, The Lady Orchid macro

As I’ve shown you the Lady Orchis, I’d better show you the Man Orchid; we saw these in each of the sites we visited.

Aceras anthopophorum – Man orchid

Aceras anthopophorum – Man orchid

It isn’t so obvious why the Man Orchid is so called but for the Naked Man Orchid it is blatantly correct as a name.

Orchis italica – The naked Man orchid

Orchis italica – Naked Man Orchid group

One of the things that made the Gargano so special was that in places where we found orchids there were hundreds if not thousands of them.

The example below appears to be a cross between Orchis italica and Anacampis morio, I must say he does seem particularly well endowed!

hybrid of italica and Anacampis morio we think

The problem with all the orchid species is that the book I have states at the beginning of almost every description that there are many hybrids that some people believe to be separate species; given this and the fact that some species have very wide variations in colour and even to some extent in form I think that unless you are an expert it is almost impossible to be positive about any identification, so please if you think any of my names are incorrect please leave a comment.  Chloris is very good with her identification and also she bought a book about orchids specifically in the Gargano, so I am indebted to her for most of these id’s.

Anacampis papilionacea – Butterfly orchid

We saw many different-looking butterfly orchids but cannot reliably identify them. Below are some of the variations.

Anacampis papilionacea – Butterfly orchid

Anacampis papilionacea – Butterfly orchid

Anacampis papilionacea – Butterfly orchid

Orchis provincials

Gymnadenia conopsea

Anacamptis morio white variation

Anacamptis morio white variation

Anacamptis morio pink variation

Anacamptis morio

Anacamptis is the most infuriating species as it comes in many different colours which when you find them you are sure they are something completely different.

Then come the bee orchids; all very distinctive but again many hybrids or different forms are listed as different species; I imagine that Chloris will enlighten us more about this in here post so don’t forget to follow the links to here post.

Orphys passionis pollinated by spiders – you can see some webs around the flower

Orphrys garganica

The above two are a good example; they might be distinct species or maybe the second is Orphys passionis sub. sp. garganica.

Orphris lutea

Orphis sicular

Orphys tenthredinfera pollinated by Saw flies

Although all the bee orchids are similar they are pollinated by different insects.

You can imagine the grasps of delight when we saw this field.

Anacamptis morio for as far as the eye could see

If you’d like to see how I got the above image go to Chloris’s post here.

48 thoughts on “The Gargano, Puglia with a like minded blogger in search of orchids

  1. A lovely post. We were both so glad you joined us, it made our trip such fun having you there. I have gazed at the photographs and the orchid book so long that I have gone cross- eyed. I am sorry I think I mislead you. I think the one I told you was Gymnadenia conopsia is The Four Spotted Orchid, Orchis quadripunctata. The two upper spots are cunningly concealed.😁

  2. I’ve never quite understood the excitement about orchids. They seem rather clumpy and sparse to me. But the enthusiasm you and Chloris have for them is probably infectious and I would suddenly get excited about orchids were I now to go somewhere where they grow.

    • I think that is because they are quite rare now. The excitement of finding something that only grows in very special undisturbed places. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Great post, Christina. It’s nice to have differing viewpoints of the same place. The orchids are just so beautiful, thank you for the profile shots of them–it’s hard to pick a favorite.

  4. Wow – what a veritable array of orchids for you to feast your eyes on Christina 😄 I can imagine that you both must have been so excited by your adventures and have some fabulous memories to cherish.

  5. Not only are all these orchids utterly unknown to me, I can’t say I’ve seen a field full of orchids of any type here ever. What great fun this trip must have been. My own minimal efforts at orchid identification have been equally frustrating. Hybrids, including intergeneric hybrids, abound.

    • The opening sentence to almost every Orchis stated that more work was needed to identify all the hybrids, so frustrating but it didn’t spoil our enjoyment!

  6. Christina your trip with Chloris and your husbands to El Gargano must have been magnificent, wonderful, an unforgettable experience. The Gargano is full of orchids that I love: Lady Orchid, Man Orchid, butterfly orchid, Orphys passionis, Orphys tenthredinfera. In that field full of Anacamptis morio I would have enjoyed the most wonderful sight. I visited the blog of Chloris to continue reading. The Umbra Foresta is a magical place. The amount of wildflowers so lovely and different there is a wonder. The Anemone hortensis is a jewel of nature. The cliffs and beaches are spectacular. I really like the Podolica cow! The variety of wild Iris that are a beauty is fantastic, I love it. Christina thanks for this wonderful blog and thanks Chloris for her fantastic blog: each one is a piece that forms a great blog about El Gargano, a place where nature is great and a jewel. Greetings and memories of Margarita.

  7. I have only ever seen two or three wild orchids together, so how lucky you were to see hundreds of them. Love that last photo – I am off to read Chloris’ post now. 🙂

  8. What a wonderful time you had together, I can imagine your delight at finding so many beautiful the wild. I had no idea that there were so many different varieties, quite amazing!

    • There are many more depending on which source you read (and how they view the hybrids) there are 40, 60 or 80 different species to be found in the Gargano.

  9. It was lovely to see these orchids with you and Chloris. We have wild orchids here too, but I think the lack of rain means they are not easy to find. I can imagine seeing a field of anacamptis as you did. Thanks for sharing this wonderful trip.

  10. What a treat for both of you, a double treat in fact – seeing the wild flowers and seeing them in the company of someone equally enthusiastic. An amazing experience and I am so pleased you both shared it with us. Thank you

  11. We went to our orchid “place” at the very beginning of April and there were only two types of early orchid open. Your post has reminded me that we must go back soon to check for the rest. Ours are in a protected area, so many must have disappeared in this heavily agricultural area. Amelia

  12. How fascinating to find so many in one place, Christina. I got very excited earlier this week when I found my first wild orchid of the year, an early purple orchid. For me the excitement has something to do with rarity, something to do with beauty but also something to do with the unusual look of the flowers.

    • Plus the fact that they need quite specific environments. Locally today I saw a couple of Lady orchids, but I think that they are late appearing here this year. It’s been a cold spring.

  13. Amazing pictures, Christina – I love the field of purple orchids and wondered how you managed to take that one, worth whatever pretzel you put yourself in. I am not sure I would have attempted the ID, there is a native orchid group here that does it and it bewilders me. Are there any garden orchids that originated from these plants?

  14. What a wonderful plant adventure. I’m glad to see so many orchids growing along unbothered in one magical place, they really are doing well there.
    Amazing that they can put on such a show in what appears to be an overall barren location. What a surprise!

    • The conditions of calcareous rock is the idea substrate for the orchids. the ground was actually relatively fertile as animals graze the land, which is important otherwise the orchids can’t be seen for the long grass. Seeing whole fields of wild flowers is always a joy.

  15. Delighted to have stumbled upon this post, Christina, as you know I’m mad about orchids and it’s always a delight to see which species grow elsewhere. How nice to be able to go on this trip with Liz, she’s such a nice and as you say knowledgeable person. We have most of these species here but there are some I didn’t know. Bought a great book about the causses which we will explore next year. Hope the summer is treating you nicely. We’ve had some terrible heatwaves and the drought is worse than last year…Happy days

    • It was a most enjoyable trip; but a word of warning ⚠️ while I was there I was bitten by a tick that was infected and I quite ill for a while (one reason I haven’t been blogging). So do be careful and always check all over your body after you’ve been in places with grass that has been grazed by sheep or goats. I’ve heard that Slovenia is very badly infected with ticks that have encephalitis which is even worse than Lyme disease.

      • oh dear, yes, I’ve heard that they’re becoming more of an issue and I hope you’re doing okay and won’t have any long term problems – lots of ticks here this year too especially on the dogs, take care xx

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