John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Serapias carica

S. carica
was first described by Baumann and Kunkele in 1989 from the Caria area of Anatolia, the species name being derived from this association with that ancient region.

Its range is very much eastern Mediterranean and largely the Aegean islands of Rhodes, Samos and Lesbos together with the adjacent Anatolian coastline. Its complete distribution is however poorly known due to confusion with S. orientalis.  and the authors can fully understand the difficulties in differentiating these  two closely related species. It seems that flowering season (S.carica being earlier) is a key distinguishing feature.

Some  authorities believe that S. carica replaces S. orientalis in the most easterly parts of its range, whilst others maintain the two species overlap. We suspect that this is one of those arguments that the splitters and lumpers will pursue and for our part remain open minded as to the true status of these similar orchids.

The overall height of the two species is very similar but S. carica tends to appear more stocky, with leaves that can reach the bottom of the inflorescence. Photo 3 does little to reinforce this feature but was reliably confirmed to us as being assuredly S. carica by an individual with far better local knowledge than ourselves. The hood of this species is said to be held more horizontally than S. orientalis and this feature at least is borne out in the pictures which all come from Lesbos and date from the middle two weeks of April.