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Serapias ionica

S. ionica is a rare member of the S. vomeracea group whose name reflects its distribution centre in the Ionian islands of Greece. It was first described from Cephalonia by Baumann and Kunkele as recently as 1988 though it was originally recognized and named S. nglecta ssp ionica by Nelson some years earlier.

Its range is disjunct and poorly understood and whilst it was originally thought to be exclusively an orchid of the west coast and islands of Greece and Croatia, it is becoming clearer that it may well venture further into mainland Greece, possibly as far as the eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth and perhaps even Attica. S. ionica exhibits a preference for coastal habitat and this has put it in danger from agricultural development and urban sprawl, particularly in  areas with high economic reliance on tourism. For this reason it's to be  hoped that the species is indeed rather more widespread than at first thought.

S. ionica
shows a marked partiality for lightly wooded country on alkaline soils and the illustrations feature plants that were growing in just such a situation, in a small area of limestone pavement. It should be stressed that the illustrations do not depict typical examples of the species
and it's conceivable that there has been genetic interference. They do however illustrate very well the extremely hairy epichile, characteristic of this species.

The photos come from the western Greek mainland and date from the 20th of April 2007.