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

S. ionica is a rare member of the S. vomeracea group with a name reflecting its core distribution in the Ionian islands of Greece. It was first described from Cephalonia by Baumann and Kunkele as recently as 1988 though it was originally recognized and named S. nglecta ssp ionica by Nelson some years earlier.

Its range is somewhat disjunct and poorly understood but whilst it was originally thought to be exclusively an orchid of the Ionian islands of Greece and the Dalmatian archipelago of Croatia, it seems it may well stray onto the west coast of mainland Greece. S. ionica exhibits a preference for coastal habitat and this has put it under threat from agricultural development and urban sprawl, particularly in  areas with high economic reliance on tourism. For this reason it's to be hoped that the species is indeed rather more widespread than at first thought.

S. ionica
shows a marked partiality for lightly wooded country on poor, alkaline soils and as has already been mentioned, a position within sight of the coast, albeit rarely actually at the sea side itself. It tends to occur in large, widely spaced colonies where individual plants may produce a dozen flowers and grow to 20cms.
Although they may occur in company of other Serapias group species thay are easily distinguished by the wide, flat hypochile with its often lush growth of white hairs. The photos come from the south western corner of Cephalonia, particularly along the cliff tops around the Monastery of Kipoureon and date from the second week of April.