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

This species was first described from Algeria by Poiret in 1789 and its name, meaning "long-horn" refers to the length of the spur. It's spent most of its scientific existence as an Orchis but recent studies determined that as with others of the former O. morio group, it more correctly belongs with the genus Anacamptis.

It is a distinguished and highly attractive plant that has a largely western Mediterranean distribution covering the Balearic Islands, Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, southern Italy and north Africa. In much of its range it's a rare orchid but in the Mediterranean islands (although sometimes local) can be abundant.

A. longicornu is easily recognizable as an A. morio group member but is unlikely to be confused with either A. morio or A. picta as it exhibits several clearly distinguishing features. Like its close relatives however, it can appear in a wide range of colours, from the darkest purple (almost black) through magenta and lilac to pure white. The centre of the lip is usually a contrasting white and invariably either strongly or lightly spotted. Hypochromatic plants are relatively common.

A. longicornu can also be identified by the size and shape of the spur which is noticeably longer than the lip, whereas in A. morio and A. picta it's shorter. It also differs in that it thickens laterally at the end, being reminiscent of a small club. This species is not particularly fussy about either soil type or moisture retention but is intolerant of shade.

The pictures are from Sicily, Mallorca and Sardinia dating from the first two weeks of April.