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Orchis cazorlensis

O. cazorlensis was first described from Jaen, Spain by Lacaita in 1930 and its name refers to its initial
discovery in the Sierra de Cazorla mountains. It is a member of the large O. mascula group of Orchis and
closely related to O. spitzelli, an orchid to which it bears a strong resemblance.

This species is endemic to southern and central Spain and although very localized can be quite plentiful in
its preferred stations. O. cazorlensis is an orchid of higher altitudes where as with O. spitzelii it requires a position that experiences full snow cover in the winter, it also shares with its close relative, a preference for open woodland with a thick understory of course vegetation through which to grow and presumably enjoy some protection. In both species Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is regularly noted as an associated taxon.

Despite the morphological similarities between the two species they are unlikely to be confused due to significantly different distributions, with O. spitzelli occupying a more northerly (and very disjunct) range
from the Pyrenees to the Alps and then reappearing in Gotland (Sweden). It further extends eastwards   erratically through to the Balkans, Anatolia and Lebanon. O. cazorlensis however is restricted to central
and southern Spain, with northern Spain providing a buffer zone that despite apparently suitable habitat, is not populated by either species. O. cazorlensis is a shorter, spindlier plant than O. spitzelii with flowers that lack the deeper purple colouration, being much paler and in some cases actually unspotted white. The example depicted in the first picture is relatively unusual in the depth of its purple pigmentation.

The pictures are from the Cuenca region of central Spain, dating from the middle of April.