John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Orchis sitiaca

sitiaca was first described from Sitia, Crete by Renz in 1932 and is a member of the O. anatolica sub    group of Orchis.

This species is endemic to Crete where it is found predominantly in the mountainous areas of the central and eastern districts of the island. Although quite local in its distribution, it can be relatively common in its   favoured locations, where it will tolerate a varied range of habitats from dry, calcareous grassland and   scrub to moderately acidic open pinewoods.

O. sitiaca is not a difficult species to distinguish from other local Orchis with it's shiny grey/green rosette of leaves being the most obvious and easily observed identifying feature. These leaves are usually flecked with silver markings and appear quite unlike those of O. anatolica which carry bold black spotting. The two species share similar habitat requirements and frequently grow close by one another as can be seen in the first photograph. The flower colouration of O. sitiaca is normally pale lilac and rarely appears as dark as those of O. anatolica. Separating genetically pure examples of the two taxons is reasonably straightforward but unfortunately hybridization has created swarms of intermediates that can exhibit characteristics of both species. 
O. sitiaca is also known to readily hybridise with other Orchis species and notably with O. quadripunctata
the result of which is the hybrid O x sezikiana. Some authorities, both in Crete and Cyprus argue that many populations of this hybrid have achieved sufficient independence from the parent species to be regarded as a new species in their own right. This view is not however widely accepted. The pictures come from the Spilli valley, Crete and date from the 13th of April.