John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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  Himantoglossum adriaticum

H. adriaticum was first described from Trentin (Italy) by H. Baumann in 1978 and its name refers to the  centre of its distribution, either side of the Adriatic. This species is a member of the widespread H. hircinum group which have long been known as the Lizard Orchids. Although there are currently seven European species officially recognized within this group, there is almost certainly due to be some rationalisation and demotions to sub-specific status amongst this number.

This species is similar to H. hircinum but is generally less robust, the inflorescence containing fewer individual flowers which for many years led botanists to simply regard this species as just a lax flowered H. hircinum. There are however obvious differences and notably in the helmet formed by the perianth which in H. adriaticum is smaller and more closely compacted. The central lobe or "tail" is usually less twisted than in H. hircinum but this is not seen by the authors as an especially reliable differentiating characteristic.

The range of this species is not known with certainty due to its similarity to the very much more common H. hircinum. It is however known with certainty from Slovenia and northern Croatia. together with most of Italy, excluding Sicily. Small but stable populations exist in Hungary and Austria and small numbers can be found in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Himantoglossum genus as a whole produce little nectar and rely on many and various insect pollinators, thus making hybridisation all the more probable.

The photographs come from the Abruzzo region of central Italy and northern Istria, Croatia, all dating from the first week of May at which time the flowers were only just appearing .