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.