John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Anacamptis species Links

Anacamptis coriophora


A. coriophora was first described  from Louvain (Belgium) in 1753 and although for much of that time it was cconsidered to be a member of the Orchis genus, it has now been reclassified as an Anacamptis.

This is a highly distinctive orchid, but one which closely resembles its fellow group member A. fragrans. In some parts of Europe botanists refuse to accept a distinction between these two species and certainly from a purely morphological standpoint this position can be easily understood. One such country is Greece and it must be conceded that here in particular the two species seem to have become convergent and difficult to separate.

Whilst the text books quote differing characteristics, there is significant variation and distinguishing the plants can be difficult in the field. There are however two key features that go some way to aid in identification. The first is in the very dissimilar habitat preferences with A. coriophora being exclusively a plant of damp or even wet situations and often on neutral or slightly acidic soils.  It is frequently found growing with A. laxiflora, a plant that enjoys much the same conditions. By contrast A. fragrans is strictly a species of dry, calcareous substrates in full sun.

Another feature that is said to distinguish the species is their scent which in the case of A. coriophora is a sickly foetid smell and in A. fragrans, as its name suggests, the scent is more fragrant and reminiscent of vanilla. These aromatic dissimilarities are difficult to detect and the authors have never found this a particularly easy or reliable differentiator. This is a relatively late flowerer and even in the warmer areas of its range, it does not appear until late April. The pictures are all from northern Greece and date from the beginning of May.