John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Serapias aphroditae

S. aphroditae
was first described by Delforge from the Akamas hills in Cyprus in 1990 and it takes its name unsurprisingly from the goddess Aphrodite who was reputed to have been born on the island.

This taxon is a relatively recent addition to the genus Serapias and one which some authorities still struggle to accept as a distinct species, preferring to consider it as a sub- species. There are others who regard it as being little more than a localised variety of S. bergonii.  Whatever its true status there is little doubt that it can be easily confused with a small S. bergonii and we cannot guarantee that the plants depicted here are correctly identified.

S. aphroditae is endemic to Cyprus and was originally thought to occur only in the Akamas and Akrotiri peninsulas though this no longer seems to be the case with examples turning up in the Pathos district and elsewhere. There are several characteristics which distinguish it from S. bergonii but as has already been mentioned, these can often be fine distinctions when making comparisons.

Most importantly, S. aphroditae is smaller in all its parts, its overall height (up to 25cms), the size of the epichile, the length of the hood and the length of the leaves. The bract is normally the same length as the hood or only marginally longer whereas in S. bergonii it is always longer. Its range brings it into contact with S. parviflora,  particularly in coastal area's but there is little likelihood of confusion as this species, although often taller, is much more delicate with a still smaller and less hairy epichile. The pictures are from the Pikni forest, north of Paphos, dating from third week of March.