John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Orchis ichnusae

O. ichnusae was first described from Nouro, Sardinia in 1982 by Corrias and named O. mascula subsp ichnusae but was subsequently reclassified as a full species in 1991 by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren. Its name refers to Ichnusa, the Greek name for ancient Sardinia. It's a member of the widespread O. mascula group of Orchis and is still referred to, indeed preferred by some authorities by the synonym O. olbiensis subsp icnusae.   

It is a rare and local species with a disjunct distribution within Sardinia where it's largely confined to calcareous mountains up to approx 1500 metres. It doesn't seem particularly exacting in its choice of habitat, being at home in full sun or shade, dry or moist soil and in grassy meadows as well as stony garrigue and cliffs. It is however unaccountably absent from large areas of apparently suitable terrain. O. ichnusae is endemic to Sardinia but unlike other of the islands orchids, is not found in Corsica.

This is the only representative of the O. mascula group on the island and in fact, one of only two Orchis species that are present there at all, the other being the pale yellow flowered O. provincialis. It is difficult therefore to misidentify the species despite it being hugely variable in terms of the range of colours and colour combinations it can exhibit. The most common colouraion is either dark or pale pink but can also be red, lilac and in rare cases pure unmarked white. Being a largely montane orchid, O. ichnusae is a relatively late flowerer which although at lower elevations can be found at the end of March, may not bloom until mid April in the higher ranges.  

The illustrations are from Sardinia and date from mid April.