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Gymnadenia dolomitensis

This species was first described as Nigratella dolomitensis by Teppner and Klein from Bolzano, Italy in 1998 and the specific name refers to its centre of distribution in the Dolomite mountains of Italy. It has now been incorporated into the fifteen strong G. nigra group within the genus Gymnadenia.

G. dolomitensis is probably endemic to the Dolomites, though its presence in neighbouring areas is suspected but sometimes difficult to confirm due to confusion involving the similar G. miniata (formerly G. rubra). Although local, it can be frequent in its favoured sites where it is found in alpine grassland at heights from 2000 to 2500 metres. As has already been mentioned, this species is morphologically very similar to G. miniata though research in the last 10 years suggests that this latter species is nowhere near as common in the Dolomites as was once thought, its range being centred further east in Austria. G. bicolor is a frequent companion and misidentifications can occur where G. dolomitensis has passed anthesis and the lower flowers fade to pink, thus resembling the characteristic shading of G. bicolor.

Typically however it can be readily distinguished by the greater size and openness of the individual flowers within the inflorescence. As can be seen in photos 3 and 5, the upward pointing lip and perianth form a wide central tube, in which is clearly visible the cream coloured reproductive apparatus. In G. rubra the lip is pinched and as a consequence these organs are much less visible. The flowers of G. dolomitensis are short lived and it can be hard to locate a plant in which the inflorescence is in a fresh condition for photography.

The pictures are from the mountains above Cortina d' Ampezzo, dating from the middle of July.