AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Epipactis lusitanica D.Tyteca, Orchidophile (Deuil-la-Barre) 84: 218 (1988).
Homotypic Names:
Epipactis tremolsii subsp. lusitanica (D.Tyteca) Kreutz, Kompend. Eur. Orchid.: 68 (2004).
Epipactis helleborine subsp. lusitanica (D.Tyteca) J.-M.Tison, Biocosme Mésogéen 27: 125 (2010), with incorrect basionym ref.
Description:
The status of this orchid as a full species is not widely accepted, with many authorities preferring the view that it is simply a variety of Epipactis tremolsii. It is an extremely variable orchid that can arise in a range of colouration, size and appearance and consequently can often closely imitate other species. Due to the limited distribution of the species in southern Portugal and south west Spain this propensity for imitation can really only create identification difficulties with one other species - Epipactis tremolsii. This does however occur and where the two species grow together on acidic substrates they can be very difficult to separate. Epipactis lusitanica is normally a less robust plant, growing no higher than 50cms, with fewer leaves and paler colouration but the flowers themselves offer little by way of a means of species separation. It is thought that this species along with the other members of the group, developed from a common ancestor, perhaps Epipactis helleborine or Epipactis atrorubens as adaptations to an increasingly Xeric environment.
History:
Epipactis lusitanica was first described by D. Tyteca from the Algarve, Portugal in 1988 and its name literally means " from Portugal ". It is a member of the small, five species Epipactis tremolsii group, all of which are characterized by strongly hirsuit stems and short, broad leaves which tend to be clustered towards the base of the stem.
Habitat:
Epipactis lusitanica is an orchid restricted to acid soils, where as with many other Epipactis species it prefers a shady position in woodland clearings and edges.
Distribution:
C. & S. Portugal to SW. Spain, Morocco
References:
Orchidophile (Deuil-la-Barre) 84: 218 (1988).
Images:
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