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Serapias carica

S. carica
was first described by Baumann and Kunkele in 1989 from the Caria district of Anatolia, the species name being derived from its association with that ancient region.

Its range is very much eastern Mediterranean and largely the Aegean islands of Rhodes, Samos and Lesbos together with the adjacent Anatolian hinterland. Its complete distribution is however poorly known due to confusion with the closely related and commonly occurring S. orientalis, a species from which it is difficult to differentiate.
Some authorities believe that S. carica replaces S. orientalis in the most easterly parts of its range, whilst others maintain the two overlap (which they certainly do in the Greek islands). Other botanists believe the two species are synonymous. What is clear however is that opinions differ as to its nomenclature and status.

The overall height of the two species is usually similar but S. carica tends to appear more stocky. A colony in some marshy ground on Samos produces some enormous plants up to 50 cms in height. The inflorescence of S.carica is more elongated and held more horizontally than S. orientalis with bracts and flowers that are a shade darker and leaves that can reach the bottom of the inflorescence. A somewhat unreliable differentiator is the length of the bracts which tend to be shorter than the hood whilst in S. orientalis they tend to be equal or marginally longer. Flowering season is also a key distinguishing feature with S. carica being some two weeks earlier. The pictures come from Lesbos, Samos and Rhodes, dating from the middle to late April.