Albiflora studies on the Crimean Peninsula

Orchis simia
Exploring the Crimean Pensinsula for orchids, species like Comperia comperiana, Steveniella satyrioides or Orchis punctulata are especially noteworthy. Albiflora forms, though, are quite rare in this Ukrainian region. Vladimir Isikov of the Nikita Botanical Garden told me that he has seen only three species with white-flowered forms: Orchis simia, Neotinea tridentata and Anacamptis morio ssp. caucasica (which he referred to as Orchis picta). Obviously there are no orchid species on the Crimean Peninsula heading to a direction which favours white flowering.

But near тылобое (Tylovoye) we found an edge of a forest with a group of 26 Orchis simia under a pine and 5 albiflora plants among them. In this small population there was obviously some kind of reproduction of the white-flowered plants.

Neotinea tridentata has a marked variability, as it is also noted by H. Kretzschar, W. Eccarius and H. Dietrich in their book „Die Orchideengattungen Anacamptis, Orchis, Neotinea“ (Buergel 2007, p. 206/207). On the Crimean Peninsula the dominant colour of flowers is light purple. I’ve found 3 white flowered plants, which led me to a rough estimate of 2 albiflora plants per 1000 Neotinea tridentata.
Neotinea tridentata

Among the Anacamptis morio, Orchis mascula, Orchis purpurea or Anacamptis pyramidalis seen on our 10-day-trip there have been no white-flowered plants. But in a forest near гончарное (Goncharnoye) there was an albino form of Epipactis helleborine.
Epipactis helleborine

Beyond the orchid flora I noticed white flowers of Polygala major, the endemic Onosma taurica and Papaver spec. Interesting was also a Polygonatum odoratum with half white leaves.
Polygonatum odoratum

colour plays with C. rubra and E. atrorubens

Following the hint of an orchid friend, today I’m travelling to the Hesse part of the mountain region Rhoen. Northeast of Fulda, near Huenfeld, a path is leading through a long stretch of forest. Along a slope there are flowering countless Cephalanthera rubra. And directly at the path there are three plants with white flowers. Die first still has a slight violett hue. The second is totally white, but already slightly withering, and the third has only one, relative closed flower.

Along the slope there are more than one hundred Cephalanthera rubra, Gymnadenia conopsea and Epipactis atrorubens. There is one Gymnadenia conopsea flowering almost white, with a last hue of violett in the flowers.

South of Fulda and west of Bad Brueckenau we follow another hint and find a hilltop with an impressive  grassland vegetation. In the lower range there are numerous Gymnadenia conopsea. Farther above, some meters from the forest, there are Epipactis atrorubens flowering – and among them some plants, which are not flowering red-brown, but yellowish-green! While strolling this wonderful slope, I’m seeing a white flowering Gymnadenia conopsea var. albiflora! It is a strong plant with more than 30 flowers, the upper ones still as buds. On the hill there are many butterflies and wild bees. The white flowering Gymnadenia is offering them with its spur filled with nectar as an interesting alternative.