John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Gymnadenia archiducis-joannis

This species was first described as Nigratella archiducis-joannis by Teppner and Klein from Styrie, Austria in 1985 and was named in honour of Archduke Jean of Austria. As G. archiducis-joannis, it has now been incorporated into the seventeen strong G. nigra group within the genus Gymnadenia.

This is one of the rarer Vanilla Orchids being known from just a handful of sites in the Dachstein, Eisener, Salzkammergut and Tores Gebirge massifs where it forms small, low density and extremely loose colonies. It can be found at altitudes from 1800 to slightly above 2000 metres, where it grows in short calcareous grassland and being intolerant of suffocating vegetation, is totally dependent on timely seasonal grazing. As with several other of the Vanilla Orchid species, its future is threatened by alpine recreational development but additionally the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species also cites collection as a further risk to its future. For what reason or to what purpose it is collected is unknown.

G. archiducis-joannis is one of the apomictic members of the the group and as such is not hugely variable, being a uniform pink with buds that are only slightly darker than the flowers, while the latter do not fade greatly with maturity. At 15cms it is a small orchid with a hemispherical inflorescence approximately as wide as it is long. The species is known to grow alongside both G. austriaca and G. miniata, neither of which are sufficiently similar to cause any confusion with identification.

The normal flowering period is from July to mid August but the pictures here were recorded on the 10th of July, at which time many of the plants had already completed anthesis and were fading. The location is the Salzkammergut massif, Styrie, Austria.