Himantoglossum adriaticum

photo: Matthias Svojtka, 4.6.2014, in Vienna

Adriatic lizard orchid

The Adriatic lizard orchid differs from the more common Lizard orchid by a less dense inflorescence and the less twisted middle lobe of the labellum which is deeply parted at the end. The strong plant has a height of 20 to 70 cm. It has eight to ten unspotted leaves form a basal rosette on the ground. The cylindrical inflorescence carries 15 to 40 flowers, each one supported by a long bract. The spur is directed downwards. Petals and sepals form a hood above the extremely long three-lobed labellum.

photo: Matthias Svojtka, 4.6.2014, in Vienna

Taxonomic discussion

In 1978, Helmut Baumann (1937-2014) described Himantoglossum adriaticum as an “up to now overlooked lizard orchid” (In: Orchidee, 29(4). S. 165-168). Before, it was viewed as Himantoglossum hircinum.

White colour of flowers

The standard colour of the flowers is light rose with dark red stripes in the hood and spots on the labellum. The rare albiflora form is just white and green without any red or crimson colour.

Habitat, bloom and distribution

Himantoglossum adriaticum grows on grasslands and in light forests, on calcarious soils. The plant flowers from May to June. Its name indicates the main distribution area in Italy and Croatia. In addition it grows also in Austria, Hungary, Slowakia and Moldawia.

photo: Matthias Svojtka, 4.6.2014, in Vienna