|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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D. markusii was first described from Palermo, Sicily in 1846 and named in honour of Doctor Markus, a
physician to the then Russian empress ?
This is a rare orchid of the D. sambucina group which has a western Mediterranean distribution very
similar to that of A. longicornu IE:- north Africa, Spain and the Balaerics, southern Italy, Sicily, Malta
and Sardinia. It grows on neutral to acidic substrates in full sun or mid shade and shows a preference
for open montane woodland. D. markusii can very easily be confused with D. romana though their
individual habitat preferences limit (but by no means eliminate) contact between the two species.
Some of the pictures here come from the Ficuzza forest in Sicily where the plants were to be found at
a significantly higher altitude than the far more numerous D. romana. Nonetheless there were contact zones where differentiating the two could be difficult. The following features are characteristic. :-are slightly longer and even in a fully opened inflorescence they protrude beyond the tip of the topmost
1. The lateral lobes are more heavily scalloped (photos 3 and 4 illustrate this very well). 2. The bracts
flower. 3. D. markusii is invariably a yellowish, white colour and although a red variety has been recorded extremely rarely from Sicily, red flowered plants elsewhere will be D. romana. 4. It is an early flowerer
and by mid April will be past its best at a time when D. romana is still in its prime.
The photographs come from Sicily and southern Spain, dating from the middle of April.