John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Epipactis species Links

Epipactis densifolia
 
 
This species was first described from Konya, Anatolia by Hahn, Passin and Wegener in 2003 and is a member of the E. helleborine group of Epipactis. In 2021 however, an extensive study of this group concluded that of  the ninety variously ranked taxa, no more than ten warranted species or sub-specific status. One of the many casualties of this cull was E. densifolia which was considered to be synonymous and inseparable from E. tremolsii. This analysis is perhaps unsurprising given its very close morphological resemblance to that more western Mediterranean based species.

What follows therefore is a description of the taxa formerly known as E. densifolia but which is now known to be an eastern extension of the population of E. tremolsii, previously considered to get no further east than small colonies in Malta and Sardinia. E. densifolia had a limited known distribution from southern Anatolia westwards to the Aegean islands of Samos, Lesbos and Chios but everywhere it is a rare orchid and getting rarer in most parts of its range due in no small way to the year on year drought conditions which are affecting much of southern Europe. It is predominantly a species of shady pine woodland although it is happy to occupy a partially sunny position in clearings and even known to persist in the open after tree felling has taken place.

E. densifolia is one of the distinctive members of the Epipactis group and is perhaps most easily identified by the crowded cordate leaves ascending the lower stem and which give rise to its common name of the Dense Leaved Orchid. The inflorescence varies from dense to lax with similarly variable flower colouration though this is more usually a darkish purple. The photographs are from Samos, dating from the end of April.