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

S. strictiflora was first described by Welwitsch from the Portuguese Extramedura in 1886 and its name
refers to the narrow lipped flowers.  Its a member of the S. lingua group and bears a close resemblance
to the southern French species, S. gregaria. There is not however thought to be any link between the two
taxons, not least because of a 500 kilometre separation in their respective distributions.

This is a hybridogenous species involving S. lingua and S. parviflora and it has a western Mediterranean
range from north Africa to the southern Iberian peninsula.  It is probably at its most frequent in the
Algarve of southern Portugal where although localised can form huge colonies and where hybridisation with
other Serapias species is commonplace and confusing. S. strictiflora is an undemanding plant in terms of
habitat requiements and will tolerate wet or dry, acid or alkaline soils in either full sun or mid shade. Its
often multiple root tubers are long stalked and can form sizeable clumps of stems, a feature which can be
noted in photo five.

As already mentioned, S. strictiflora grows in a region of Europe rich in other Serapias species and this
commonly results in hybrid swarms with consequent difficulties in accurate identification.  The two key
characteristics of this species are firstly and most significantly, the long, narrow epichile which unlike
most other species does not have wavy edges, or its at least barely perceptible. Secondly, the projecting
lateral lobes of the hypochile are jet black,  contrasting markedly with the (usually) brick red epichile
which hangs vertically or is slightly backward pointing.

The photographs are all from the Algarve of Portugal and date from the middle of April.