John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Gymnadenia odoratissima x conopsea

This hybrid was first described by Petermann in 1841 and its binomial name is Gymnadenia x intermedia. The reason for this choice of name is evident as the morphological characteristics of these hybrids are midway between the two parent species. This is not however a hard and fast rule and variation does occur.

Gymnadenia x intermedia can be found quite commonly where the two species grow together and distribution is obviously limited to the smaller range of G. odoratissima. It can therefore occur uncommonly in low lying damp meadows and on hillsides as far north as Belgium and the Baltic states but is perhaps most frequently encountered at higher altitudes from France as far east as Russia. In the European mountains both parent species are true Alpines, capable of enduring altitudes up to 2800 metres, keeping company with the hardiest of Vanilla Orchids. As with G. odoratissima it prefers a damp environment, in full sun on a calcareous soil.

The appearance of this hybrid is variable to say the least and although typically lax flowered and shorter than its progenitors, it can sometimes exhibit a hybrid vigour that results in an exceptionally sturdy plant. Such is the case with the plant depicted here, which was fully 60cms high with a 30cm inflorescence of densely packed flowers. Colouration is similarly variable, but tends not to be as rich as in G. conopsea, usually being in a similar range to G. odoratissima, from white to pale pink or lilac.

The pictures date from the end of June and come from the Col du Granier, France, where the orchid was growing in a wet mountainside flush.