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Gymnadenia bicolor

This species was first described by Foelsche and Gerbaud in 2011 having previously been well known to botany as an attractive colour morph of G. miniata (G. rubra).

The origins of G. bicolor are convoluted and by no means yet settled but a brief summary of its history is as follows. Many botanists and Wolfram Foelsche in particular studied G. miniata very closely and he concluded that the dual coloured forms should be separated out as a distinct species, a view with which some of his contemporaries disagree, preferring to regard G. bicolor as part of a more comprehensive species Nigratella miniata.

Current thinking views G. bicolor as far more widespread than G. miniata and in its typical form is easily distinguished by the dark red crown which shades down to a light pink at the bottom of the inflorescence. As can be seen from the illustrations however, the degree of shading is variable and some plants appear almost entirely pink whilst others reveal only a minimal amount of lighter colouration. A further complication arises with related species such as G. dolomitensis, G. miniata and G. hygrophila all of which exhibit a fading of the bottom flowers with age and at that point, passably imitate G. bicolor. Whilst these three species can be distinguished by other characteristics there is no doubt that the scope for misidentification of G. bicolor is considerable.

G. bicolor is absent from France but otherwise is present in all the Alpine countries as far as the Carpathians. It prefers a full sun position on calcareous substrates and tolerates a wide range of altitudes from as little as 1200 metres up to 2600. The photographs date from the first two weeks of July.