John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Gymnadenia corneliana

This species was first described by Beauverd from the Alpes du Lauteret, France in 1925 and was named in honour of the Swiss botanist Rudio Cornelia.

Until relatively recently this orchid was considered to be a sub-species within the genus Nigritella, then
consisting of the single species Nigritella nigra and two subs, rubra and corneliana. These three orchids have now been incorporated into the genus Gymnadenia and together with ten newly described species, the G. nigra group has now been stretched to thirteen species. The origins of the group are considered to be monophyletic and this is a factor contributing to the close similarity of its members.

In relation to some of its relatives G. corneliana has a wide distribution and may be found from Isere in
the west across to the Mediterranean alpine areas around the French/Italian border.  As with all of the
species in this group, it is strictly a high alpine plant where it grows at altitdes between 1500 and 2500
metres. Its habitat preferences are also similar with short calcareous grassland and meadows being the  favoured choice.

As has been mentioned, it's appearance is very similar to other members of the group although as far as is
known it is only likely to be found growing alongside one other of the genus, this being G. rhellicani with
which it's unlikely to be confused due to the difference in colour. G. corneliana is pink and due to fading of the lower flowers of the spike, presents a two tone effect.  G. rhellicani is uniformly dark, maroon red.

The pictures  are from the Ecrins National Park to the east of Grenoble and date from the  9th of July.