John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Neotinea maculata

This species was first described from Portugal by Link in 1800 and at various times has been ascribed to the Aceras, Satyrium, Neotinea and Orchis genera. After many years of existence as Orchis intacta, it now seems to have settled down into life (again) within the genus Neotinea.

This  unprepossessing little orchid has long been known commonly as the Dense Flowered Orchid and it's an entirely appropriate name for a plant which does indeed pack a large number of flowers into it's inflorescence. This density seems to vary according to the habitat and avaliable light, so that those growing in the open with full sun tend to have a larger and more tightly grouped spike of flowers, whereas  woodland dwellers are smaller and more lax.  It is also noticeable that the stems and leaves of shaded plants are far darker and redder than their cousins growing in direct sunlight.

Despite  some  variability, particularly in colouration,  N. maculata is an easily identifiable species that has an enormous range which takes it from the Canary Islands, across Europe and into Syria. This range also includes some relict populations that survive in Ireland (mainly the Burren) and on the Isle of Man. Although not a particularly common orchid it can form large individual colonies and we well recall one such colony in the  Caldera Recreation Park, Tenerife, that must have numbered in the thousands.

N. maculata may be greeny/white or pink and its generally held that the latter is  most likely to sport dark spotted leaves (the accompanying photographs do not support this theory particularly well ! ) . The  photos are from Lesbos , Gargano and the wooded hillsides of Mt Hymettus, Athens.