John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Orchis anthropophora x italica

O. anthropophora was first described from France in 1753 and until recently had been placed in a genus of its own, Aceras. The primary reason for this isolation was cited as its lack of a spur but subsequent molecular studies revealed that despite this, it was indeed an Orchis and further, that it was very closely related to O. simia. The frequency of hybridization with O. simia and O. militaris had already been noted and consequently the studies results really come as no great surprise to the majority of botanists. Man Orchid (as it has always been commonly known) is now reclassified within the eleven strong O. militaris group of Orchis.

O. italica or Naked Man Orchid is an extremely widespread and abundant Orchis, with a less northerly distribution than O. anthropophora, it being centred on the Mediterranean. There is nonetheless a large area of overlap from the Iberian peninsula through the Aegean to Anatolia and beyond. The hybrid between these two species is formally named Orchis x bivonae and although by no means a rarity, is less common than O. anthropophora crosses with either O. militaris or O. simia (Orchis x spurium and Orchis x bergonii respectively).

The pictures come from Crete (6 & 7) and Malaga Province, Spain (1 to 5), the latter location being an area  where this plant is frequently noted. As can be seen from these illustrations, O x bivonae is quite variable, though a consistent feature is the presence of an appendage between the lower secondary median lobes. The pictures also serve to emphasize the tolerance of greatly differing habitats with the Cretan specimens growing in full sun, whilst the Spanish plants were growing in heavy shade amongst damp pinewoods.