John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe

Traunsteinera globosa

This is a characteristic and distinctive orchid of the European mountains which is rarely encountered at anything less than 1000 metres above sea level, usually growing in the company of other alpine specialists such as the various Gymnadenia nigra group species. At its lower elevations it frequently keeps the company of orchids such as C. calceolus and O. spitzelli , though unlike these species, it seldom ventures far from a full sun position.

Traunsteinera is an isolated genus that molecular study has failed to link closely with any other, apart from a very loose connection to fellow mountain dweller Chamorchis. The name globosa refers to the spherical shape of the full grown inflorescence, though in its early stages it has a very triangular appearance reminiscent of an overgrown N. tridentata . A useful aid to identification is the way in which the sparse upper leaves sheath the very spindly stem.

The species was first described from Switzerland by Reichenbach in 1759 and historically has been grouped with both Orchis and Nigritella. At present this genera contains just two species, its close cousin being the much rarer T.sphaerica  which differs little apart from its cream colouration and much more restricted range (Anatolia and Romania). As has already been mentioned this is a mountain orchid with a widespread distribution from Spain through to Russia, it is however local and quite rare, interestingly it has never been found to hybridize with any other species.

The pictures here are all from either the Vercors or Ecrins National Parks in Southern France with the younger plants dating from early June and the mature specimens late July.