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

O. sitiaca was first described from Sitia, Crete by Renz in 1932 and is a member of the O. anatolica sub    group of Orchis.

This species is endemic to Crete where it is found predominantly in the mountainous areas of the central and eastern districts of the island. Although very local in its distribution, it can be relatively common in its favoured locations, these being neutral to mildly acidic soils and most frequently in established lava rubble. It appears perfectly at home in full sun but may also be found in mid shade under open pinewoods.

O. sitiaca is not a difficult species to distinguish from other local Orchis with it's shiny grey/green rosette of leaves being the most obvious and easily observed identifying feature. These leaves are usually flecked with silver markings and appear quite unlike those of O. anatolica which carry bold black spotting. The flower colouration of O. sitiaca ranges from pale lilac to pink but rarely appears as dark as those of O. anatolica. Separating genetically pure examples of the two taxons is reasonably straightforward but unfortunately hybridization has created intermediates that can exhibit characteristics of both species. 
O. sitiaca is also known to readily hybridise with other Orchis species and notably with O. quadripunctata
the result of which is the hybrid O x sezikiana. Some authorities, both in Crete and Cyprus argue that many populations of this hybrid have achieved sufficient independence from their parents to be regarded as a new species in their own right. This view is not however widely accepted. The pictures come from the Spilli valley, Crete and date from the first two weeks of April at which time they were just coming into flower.