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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 albeit 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's 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 suggest that this latter species is nothing like as common in the Dolomites as was once thought, its range being centred further east in Austria and the Carpathians. Some authorities believe it does not occur in Italy at all. G. bicolor is a frequent companion and misidentification can easily occur as G. dolomitensis frequently exhibits paler colouration at the bottom of the inlorescence and not simply due to anthesis. Here again many authorities, including the authors regard G. bicolor as within the varietal range of G. dolomitensis.

Typically however it can be readily distinguished from G. miniata by the greater size and openness of the individual flowers within the inflorescence. As can be seen in the illustrations, the upward pointing lip and perianth form a wide central tube, in which is clearly visible the cream coloured reproductive apparatus. In G. miniata the lip is pinched and as a consequence these organs are much less visible. The pictures are from the mountains above Cortina d' Ampezzo, dating from the first week of July.