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

S. apulica
was first described from Foggia, Italy by Baumann and Kunkele in 1989 and its name refers to the region of Puglia in south eastern Italy, where it was originally recognized. Whilst some authors regard this is as a species in its own right, the Italian group for research on wild orchids (GIROS) classify the plant as a subspecies of S. orientalis, closely related to S. siciliensis but with a significantly longer hypochile and a larger flower overall.

The species has a very narrow range which is limited to the coastal regions and hinterland of Puglia, from the Gargano peninsula to the south east of Italy around  Lecce.  It can be relatively abundant in its favoured stations and as with most of its genus, can form intermediate populations with neighbouring species such as S. cordigera and S. vomeracea.

Interestingly S. apulica  has also been discovered to hybridize outside its genus and there are documented examples of crosses with Anacamptis morio and also with a further and as yet unidentified member of the Anacamptis genus. Even where a population is considered to be free of genetic interference, it is a highly variable species which can be difficult to identify with confidence. Typical characteristics are the wide,  seemingly compressed hypochile and the bract like leaves which clasp the stem, often reaching well beyond the lower parts of the inflorescence.

S. apulica is an early species which flowers from March but with April being more usual. The pictures are from Gargano and Lecce, dating from the middle of April.