Intro I Orchids info I Reports of '97 '98 '99 '00 '01&'02 I Images of Dactylorhiza Epipactis Ophrys Orchis Other genera Hybrids

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 pointing upwards.

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'.

Note :
(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).

Thanks :
To Pascal Pernot from Essonne (France), who has greatly helped me in putting the first publication of this report on-line (in 1997).

References :
- 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
L'Orchidophile 125
- Straaten, J v.d., M. Verhagen & H. Dekker, 1994
Orchideeën in de Vercors
Eurorchis 6, p 3-39.


(c) Frank Verhart - Last update: 10 jan. 2003
Intro I Orchids info I Reports of '97 '98 '99 '00 '01&'02 I Images of Dactylorhiza Epipactis Ophrys Orchis Other genera Hybrids