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

O. prisca was first described by Hautzinger from Iraklion, Crete in 1976 and its name
means "forgotten".

This species is endemic to the island of Crete, where although widely distributed, it is a very rare orchid indeed. O. prisca is restricted to open woodland in mountainous areas with calcareous substrates. Similar plants have been described from Turkey and
northern Lebanon but have not as yet been firmly identified as being conspecific.

This species is a member of the O. mascula group and forms part of the O. anatolica sub grouping that includes the similar O. patens, both sharing the characteristic green spotted sepals and shiny green leaves. O. prisca is unlikely to be confused with other Cretan species although darker forms of O. sitiaca could perhaps create a doubt. This would be unlikely however as they do not inhabit similar habit and importantly O. prisca is a later species that does not commence flowering until late April.

The single picture here was taken many years ago on the northern slopes of the Samaria Gorge which was then one of its strongholds. It's understood however that largely due to the increase in tourists visiting this area, the site no longer supports an appreciable population. The Thripti and Psiloritis mountain ranges are now the main refuges of this  severely threatened orchid.