Written by Frank & Max Verhart © 1997
From the 23rd of May until the 7th of June 1997 we made a trip, with
searching and photographing wild growing orchids as one of our goals.
For choosing the regions and locations to be visited, we gratefully
used the reports by other 'orchidophiles', published in several issues
of the yearly Dutch magazine 'Eurorchis'. Almost all of the visited
locations were located in France. On our outward journey we visited
the nature reserve of Montenach in the department of Moselle, with
an abundance of species that made a mediterranean impression. Thereafter,
our trip led us to the Vercors in the departements of Drôme and Isère,
where a surprising abundance of species awaited us. The journey back
led us through the Jura, and once again to Montenach. Finally we also
visited a find-spot in the Belgian province of Liège, very close to
the Dutch border.
Although we were forewarned that this year in France far less orchids
had come up than normally, the trip was very successful. This was
probably due to the combination of the time of the year and the visited
area. In previous years, we visited France a bit later, when many
orchid species have finished flowering, especially at lower elevations.
In addition we had never been in the abundant orchid-region of the
Vercors. It is very well possible that this year far less orchids
could be found than in other years, but we ourselves have never before
during one holiday found so many orchids, both in species and in number.
In total we found 44 species and 6 hybrids.
Of the species and hybrids found, 12 were new for at least one
of us: Dactylorhiza traunsteineri, Ophrys araneola, Ophrys
drumana, Ophrys sphegodes, Orchis laxiflora, Orchis ovalis (1),
Orchis provincialis, Orchis spitzelii, Ophrys x devenensis (Ophrys
fuciflora x Ophrys insectifera), xOrchiaceras bergonii (Aceras anthropophorum
x Orchis simia), Ophrys x hybrida (Ophrys sphegodes x Ophrys insectifera)
and Orchis x dietrichiana (Orchis tridentata x Orchis ustulata).
The numbers per species diverged from one individual to tens of thousands.
We found only one individual of Orchis laxiflora, Dactylorhiza
traunsteineri and of the hybrid of Ophrys sphegodes x Ophrys
insectifera. The hybrid of Aceras anthropophorum x Orchis simia
was found on one spot with two flowering individuals.
The orchids we saw in great numbers were Dactylorhiza sambucina,
Orchis mascula, Orchis militaris and Platanthera bifolia,
which we also found on many spots.
The numbers of other species we saw were in between these extremes.
Of course, some of these we could only find on one or a few find-spots,
for example Cephalanthera rubra, Ophrys araneola, Ophrys drumana,
Ophrys apifera and Orchis provincialis. It is always a
big pleasure discovering a species one has never seen before, but
to see again a 'known' species is also worthwhile. We found it striking
that we found some rare species on more than one spot, like Corallorrhiza
trifida and Cypripedium calceolus, which we only saw before
on the French Alps, and Limodorum abortivum, which we only
saw before in the Cévennes, on several spots. We also saw Orchis
spitzelii, which was a new species for us, on some different locations.
A particular experience was finding hybrids, to which we didn't
pay attention in previous years.
In addition to these general observations we would like to mention
the following special findings: near Combovin (Drôme) we found one
individual of Ophrys fuciflora, with two labellae in one flower.
(photos lost as explained later);
In the surroundings of Combovin (Drôme), we found quite a lot of individuals
of Orchis simia, among which one struck us, because the middean
lobe of the labellum of its flowers was missing.
On the Col de la Chaudière (between Bourdeaux and Saillans) we found
some individuals of Dactylorhiza majalis, with a pink labellum
without any spots or decoration. These plants were named Dactylorhiza
majalis "rosea" by Dekker (1994). On the same spot, normal
individuals of Dactylorhiza majalis, and one of Dactylorhiza
traunsteineri were also found.
A bit more southern, near Gigors (Drôme) we saw something which from
a distance made us think somewhat of a Dactylorhiza, but which
we described at closer examination as a 'monstrosity' of Orchis
tridentata. The plant was 14,5 cm high, with flowers reminding
us of Orchis tridentata, but the labellum pointed upwards (no
resupination) and it didn't have 3 lobes, but rather 2 indented ones.
The inflorescence was quite cylindrical (that is why it made us think
of Dactylorhiza when spotted from a distance). The plant had
2 basal unblotched leaves and one bract-like leaf, with something
in its axil that made us think of a rudimentary flower. The stem was
ribbed. The plant didn't look like the hybrid of Orchis tridentata
x Orchis ustulata, which we also found in the area.
A bit south of Aouste/Sye (Drôme) we found, among normal individuals,
one apochromic individual of Ophrys apifera.
Near Villard de Lans (Isère) we found some individuals of Traunsteinera
globosa. In one of these torsion of the ovary must not have occured;
any way, all of the flowers in the inflorescence had their labbelum
Also near Villard de Lans we found an orchid which we could not identify,
although in some way it looked like a Platanthera. While the
buds were still closed, the spurs already reached out. The basal leaves
were 8 cm wide.
Altogether we have been able to take quite some photo's. The biggest
set-back of the holiday-trip came on the fifth day, at a theft from
our car, when also ten photo-rolls were purloined, including among
others exposures, which documented finds that were unique for us of
Orchis laxiflora and the hybrid of Orchis simia and
Aceras antropophorum. If something like that happens to you
in France, you just say 'merde' - very loud and repeatedly. But in
the ten days following, we have seen much more, photographed a lot
more and enjoyed the imposing scenery and the abundance of orchids.
We look back on a splendid 'expedition'.
(1) - Delforge (1994) mentions Orchis ovalis,
(Orchis mascula subsp. signifera) as growing in France, in
opposition to Jacquet (Jacquet, 1995)! The determination problem is
discussed in Delforge's guide. We are almost sure that one plant we
saw in Isère is Orchis ovalis. But, we also found some hundreds
or thousands of plants in Isère and one in Drôme, of which we didn't
know whether they were Orchis ovalis, Orchis mascula, or one
of it's varieties (var. acutiflora?). In any case, they didn't
ressemble Orchis mascula as we know it from other spots. In
Drôme we found many typical Orchis mascula's. Orchis mascula
var. acutiflora grows in Isère, according to the add-on to the
Répartition (Jacquet 1997).
To Pascal Pernot from Essonne (France), who has greatly helped me
in putting the first publication of this report on-line (in 1997).
- Delforge, P., 1995
Orchids of Britain & Europe
Harper Collins Publishers, London (originally published
in 1994 in French by Delachaux et Nestlé SA, Lausanne)
- Jacquet, P., 1995
Une Répartition des Orchidées Sauvages de France
Société Française d'Orchidophilie, Paris
- Jacquet, P., 1997
Complément à la Répartition des Orchidées Sauvages de France
- Straaten, J v.d., M. Verhagen & H. Dekker, 1994
Orchideeën in de Vercors
Eurorchis 6, p 3-39.