John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Neotinea maculata

This species was first described from Portugal by Link in 1800 and at various times has been ascribed to the Aceras, Satyrium, Neotinea and Orchis genera. After many years of existence as Orchis intacta, it now seems to have settled down into existence (again) within the genus Neotinea.

This unprepossessing little orchid has long been known commonly as the Dense Flowered Orchid and it's an entirely appropriate name for a plant which does indeed pack a large number of flowers into its inflorescence. This density seems to vary according to the habitat and available light, so that those growing in the open with full sun tend to have a larger and more tightly grouped spike of flowers, whereas  woodland dwellers are smaller and more lax. It is also noticeable that the stems and leaves of shaded plants are far darker and redder than those growing in direct sunlight.

Despite some variability, particularly in colouration, N. maculata is an easily identified species that has an enormous distribution which takes it from the Canary Islands, across Europe and into Syria. This range also includes some relict populations that survive in Ireland (Burren) and on the Isle of Man. It can form large individual colonies and one such community in the Caldera Recreation Park, Tenerife, numbers in the thousands.

N. maculata flowers may be green, white or pink and its generally held that the latter is most likely to exhibit dark spotted leaves (the accompanying photographs do not support this theory particularly well ! ). The  photos are from Lesbos, Cephalonia, Gargano and the wooded hillsides of Mt Hymettus, Athens.