John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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  Anacamptis subsp.elegans
 

This species was first described from the former Yugoslavia by Heuffel in 1835 and at that time was formally named Orchis elegans. Several synonyms have subsequently been registered but Anacamptis palustris subsp. elegans, as applied by Bateman, Pridgeon and Chase in 1997 seems to have gained the widest acceptance.

This is a close relative of A. laxiflora and at first sight is often mistaken for that species, particularly as its  found in similarly damp to wet conditions, usually near the sea. Closer inspection however reveals differences and most notably in the shape and pattern of the lip. Whereas A. laxiflora has a plain or lightly spotted white central lip with lateral lobes that are strongly reflexed, A. subsp. elegans shows strong purple striation and lateral lobes that are only marginally curved backwards, being better described as flared. It is a tall plant that is often around 80cms but has been recorded as high as 100cms.

Distinguishing this taxon from the nominate species A. palustris is not however so easy and perhaps the most reliable differentiating feature is the spur, which in A. palustris is either straight or descendant whilst subsp. elegans is always ascendant and often markedly so. Other less consistent differences are the latters smaller, more pointed sepals, a denser, taller inflorescence and bracts which are usually significantly longer than the ovary. A. palustris has a more widespread distribution throughout most of continental Europe including Scandinavia whereas subsp. elegans has a more easterly range from Croatia through Greece and the Aegean to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Russia.

The pictures here are from the Aegean island of Samos, dating from the end of April.