|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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This is a very rare member of the S. vomeracea group whose name reflects its distribution centre
in the Ionian islands of Greece. It was first recognized as recently as 1988 from Cephalonia.
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.
The species preference for coastal habitat has put it in danger from both agricultural development and urban sprawl, particularly in areas with high 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 a pair of plants that were growing in just such a situation in the grike of a small area of limestone pavement.
These plants are not wholly typical in colouration or habit and it's conceivable that some hybridization has taken place. They do however illustrate very well the extremely hairy epichile.
The illustrations all come from the western Greek mainland and are dated the 20th of April