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

S. parviflora was first described by Parlatore from Palermo, Sicily in 1837, its name appropriately means small-flowered and is one of three species that make up the S. parviflora group.

This species is usually a straightforward Serapias to distinguish, though on occasion small flowered forms of S. bergonii can be morphologically similar. It is not a particularly varied orchid and the overall configuration of the hood and flower is distinctive. Flower colour is however variable and as can be seen from the pictures, it is one of several Serapias species that due to anthocyanin deficiency can often appear pale or yellowish. Flowers completely lacking this vascular pigmentation are rare however.

In most parts of its range it is not a common species and unlike many of its relatives is rarely found in large colonies. For this reason it is probably an under recorded plant, being overlooked amongst drifts of its more prolific cousins. Its distribution is large, covering a similar area to that of S. lingua  IE :- from Spain and Portugal through North Africa and the Mediterranean to the Aegean but also including an unusual Atlantic outpost in the Canary Islands. Another and more surprising outpost is in the UK, on the coast of Cornwall, though whether its hop across the English Channel from Brittany was natural or assisted is a matter of debate. Unfortunately its future is far from secure.

The illustrations come from various locations throughout the Mediterranean and they all date from April. though the species may be found in flower right through to June.