John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe

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Gymnadenia conopsea x Dactylorhiza fucshii

G. conopsea was first described by Brown from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany in 1753. Its name means "with the appearance of a fly" and due to its clove like scent it has for many years been familiar to botanists as the Fragrant Orchid.

G. conopsea is a widespread and sometimes abundant orchid with a huge distribution that covers boreal and temperate Eurasia right through to China. In the south of its range ( France and Spain) it becomes a montane species and is very much at home at 2500 metres in the European Alps growing alongside more recognized Alpine species such as its close relative G. rhellicaniThis is a readily recognized orchid and apart from the two very similar varieties ( densiflora and borealis) is a remarkably stable orchid in terms of its appearance. It is however a species that readily hybridizes, both within its genus and also (though much less frequently) with those of a different genus. The examples here depict the results of crossings with D. fucshii and were part of a sizable colony that contained a wide range of intermediates. Given that both G. conopsea itself and the subspecies G. densiflora were present in the colony, its impossible to distinguish the lineage of the plants and its entirely likely that there could be genetic input from either or both. 

This hybrid orchid has been formally named  X Dactylodenia st quintinii and it is probably the most common of the Gymnadeina inter genetic hybrids, being found locally but widely throughout Britain and Europe. The plants depicted here have inherited their primary characteristics from fucshii but this is not necessarily the natural order of things and it seems that the offspring of the seed parent retain more identity than those of the pollen provider. These photographs date from early July and come from a roadside bank in Cumbria.