John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Anacamptis laxiflora
 

O. laxiflora was first described from a site near Paris by Lamarck as long ago as 1778. Its name refers to the loose appearance of the inflorescence, although this characteristic is somewhat unreliable, being distinctly variable between populations.

Regrettably this once abundant orchid is becoming scarcer by the year as its favoured habitat is drained or adapted in poorer economic areas for subsistence agriculture. Loss of habitat to tourist development is also a significant pressure.

The distribution of A. laxiflora is large and covers much of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, including a small northerly UK population in the Channel Islands (adjacent to the coast of north western France), in the east it's range takes it as far as Anatolia. Although as has already been mentioned, the size and density of the inflorescence can be variable, it is otherwise rather consistent in its appearance and there are few other orchids with which it may be confused. A possible exception to this is A. palustris which has a similar distribution but is less dependent on damp soil conditions. Distinguishing the two is usually straightforward in that the flower of A. laxiflora is much darker and the lip more strongly reflexed. Colouration in A. laxiflora can however vary and as can be seen in the photos, will rarely throw up morphs in pink or lilac. The latter form is known only from a small colony in the Epirus region of northern Greece.

A. laxiflora has a flowering period that reflects its widespread distribution and the pictures here date from the first week of April in Greece and the Aegean and the first week of May in Liguria, Italy.