John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Orchis provincialis v rubra

O. provincialis, commonly known as the Provence Orchid, was first described by Balbis from Var, France in 1806 and variety rubra was subsequently written up by the French botanist Albert Charles Chabert. It is not known with any certainty whether the red tinted, v rubra plants arise as the result of a hybridization event or are genetically O. provincialis variants.

Hybridisation between O. provincialis and various pink flowered O. mascula group species is not at all uncommon, with most combinations having been formally recognized and named. O. provincialis x O. mascula was described and named O x penzigiana by Camus as long ago as 1928 and O. provincialis x O. langei was named O x navarrensis by Amardeilh in 2009. Perhaps the most commonly encountered inter O. mascula group hybrid is O. mascula x O. pauciflora, known as O x colemanii. This plant is more frequently being found now in the absence of its parent species and would appear to be evolving into a stabilized hybrid that requires taxonomic reclassification.

The true identity of the pictures accompanying this text cannot be confirmed, due to the absence of either parent species but in any event, as already mentioned previously, the evolution and status of these plants is currently unclear. These pictures are from Navarra in northern Spain where several populations of these curious orchids are known and in all of them the pink flowered parent is completely absent. If we assume that a developmental progression has been completed, similar to that now occurring in O x colemanii, it seems reasonable to conclude that whilst colonies of the hybrid O x navarrensis will continue to appear, older populations may have now completely subsumed the O. langei gene component and are existing as independent organisms.

The photos are from Pamplona, northern Spain and date from the last week of April.