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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:19 am 
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I'm in Samos at the moment. One day hiking around Kokkari and Manolates didn't throw up anything more interesting than what is posted below.... as we also have been for a hike up the hill behind Samos town, where there is a little church. Up this hill were a wide variety of orchids!

Samos is somewhat wetter than most Greek islands, and is only a few 100m from the Turkish mainland. It is green, mountainous and very beautiful. It's my first time here and I am much taken with it.

First of all we saw Orchis italica, growing in scrubby grass slopes:

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Next we started seeing Orchis/Anacamptis species, but these confused me lots. The first plants looked a lot like Orchis/Anacamptis morio, but then sort of merged into Orchis anatolica as we got higher up, until at the highest points we seemed to have very purple spindly form, not looking like either of those two species really. Maybe a very spindly and very dark O. anatolica though. The borders between them seemed fluid, with a lot of hybrising going on. I have also read that the Orchis genus on Samos and Lesvos is in some confusion! Here are some examples of what we saw anyway. These next few are from the initial lower slopes, looking *mostly* like Orchis/Anacamptis morio (first 3 photos) and Orchis anatolica (last 3 photos) in various colours:

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More photos shortly on this thread....... :)

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Seeking: Aristolochia cathcartii, Encephalartos inopinus, Passiflora incarnata, P. tucumanensis (seeds) Lobelia gloria-montis, L. villosa



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:33 am 
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The photos look great. It surely is mesmerising to go capture flowers out in the open.
Waiting to see more picture here.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:11 pm 
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Here are the rest of the orchids from the hill behind Samos town.

Nearing the top of the hill there were a few open terraces, where I found a lone Ophrys umbilicata, looking quite handsome:

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A little higher up were more Orchis italica and an abundance of ever-spindlier and purpler Orchis anatolica, plus some lovely views as sunset approached:

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Descending again on the Samos side of the hill we found plenty of Ophrys lutea, which is really ubiquitous. These plants didn't have a flat lip, and the slight pinch near the top might mean they can be classified as a different species in the O. lutea group, maybe O. sicula? Or the slight extension of the brown on the palate might qualify it as O. galilaea..... I don't know/

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Also, along a slightly sunnier bank were a few Ophrys iricolor, most going over a bit, The reddish colour here is probably more to do with the sunset light at the time, rather than the flowers themselves.... but I'm not 100% sure on that. I have been told that one way to ID O. iricolor in its group is to see if there is a wash of red colour on the underside of the flower, so there's a photo of that here too :)

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That was about it for that day. The second day we didn't see much in the area we went to, but today we went out to the region between Mytilene and Pythagorio, which was stunning and immensely rich in flowers of all sorts, with loads and loads of orchids. I'll post that in a day or two though.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:29 am 
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Great photos.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:47 am 
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A very interesting account of the island and its orchids. As far as wild orchjids in Europe are concerned I just can't get excited about most of them but I do think the ophrys are rather stunning plants.

Thanks for taking the time to post.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:07 pm 
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Hello again!

The third day on Samos was spent mostly walking the countryside between the towns of Mytilene and Pythagorio. This post shows the botanical feast from that walk....

We started out from Mytilene down some country roads, where the paths were bordered by cultivated fields and olive groves. Some of the trees were in blossom, which looked lovely, and the groves and field edges had plenty of Himantoglossum/Barlia robertianum/a, but these were mostly over by now. A few still had flowers. All these plants I saw on the island seemed to have whitish flowers (not all that unusual), instead of strong dark pink. Maybe it's a seasonal thing.

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As we left these cultivated areas, there were a few Orchis italica around, but nothing too prolific just here - orchids don't tend to like cultivated ground as there is often too much competition due to fertiliser use:

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We moved on along and headed up some old disused groves up to a monastery halfway between the two towns. As we were wandering around trying to find the right path, we stumbled on more Orchis italica (this will get to be a theme)... but can you spot what's growing prolifically amongst it?

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Just heaps and heaps of Ophrys umbilicata. I'd seen a single plant of this on the first walk, but this mass was amazing. It's an especially delightful little flower with just so much character:

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We carried on, and along some rocky terraces were more of my old friend which I can';t quite identify... the plant that sometimes looks like Orchis morio and sometimes like Orchis anatolica, and sometimes like a hybrid, and sometimes more like maybe something else. This was a very common plant on rocky slopes on the island:

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Along more poorly-maintained olive terraces were more slopes covered with Orchis italica. I got my companions to get down and stick their noses into the flowers, as the smell of candyfloss is really rather nice:

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Anyway, after a bit more of this, and passing the monastery, we descended into a flatter area, with more cultivated fields nearby. The fields had lots of poppies and gladiolus in them:

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In the field and road margins we saw more Barlia robertiana, and I was so pleased to finally see Ophrys speculum in the wild. It is a plant I've wanted to see wild for a while now. These were vigorous plants, 18 inches tall. Nothing like my own spindly specimen I grow in the UK!

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There was another Ophrys growing in here, probably also O. umbilicata, although very slightly differently shaped:

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We started heading up the hill which was between us and Pythagorio, which has the original Hellenic walls atop it. The path wandered up the edge of the hill, with Irises popping up all along it, as well as that protean Orchis plant again:

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Near the top of the hill, we found a sole Anacamptis pyramidalis just starting to open its flowers:

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At the top of the hill were fine views out over Pythagorio, some nice fennel plants starting to show their flowers, some of the ever-more-ubiquitous Orchis italica, the positively weed-like Ophrys lutea (or some plant in that group... O sicula/galilaea?) , as well as a few more Anacamptis pyramidalis, though theses were a bit ragged for some reason:

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That was about it for that day: We headed down a very difficult rocky path to Pythagorio for a very late lunch!

Best wishes.

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My final day walking on Samos was spent out on the west coast, following the footpaths between Karlovassi and Megalo Seitani ("big Satan") beach. There are no roads here, and the area is very unspoiled. Forgive me if some of what follows looks more like a travel brochure than an orchid report, but the scenes were spectacular!

So I started off on the path which headed out towards the beach in the distance here:

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Almost immediately the ever-common Oprhys lutea was dotted around the place. As suggested earlier, this is possibly Ophrys galilaea (O. lutea ssp. galilaea) (characterised by the extension of the brown palate markings downwards near the bottom of the lip in a kind of Y-shape - compare the "pure" Oprhys lutea photographed in my Amorgos thread for comparison):

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The path initially wound down a particularly beautiful olive grove, full of flowers:

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The footpaths stayed bedecked with anemones, salvias, alyssum, poppies, dandelions, daisies and so forth, and the views continued beautifully. After a while I crossed a picturesque bay called Mikro Seitani (little Satan bay) - I have no idea why the bays are named after Satan! This bay is sometimes used by the very rare Mediterranean monk seals, but - alas - I saw none this time.

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I started seeing more orchids after around this point, although there had been plenty of Orchis italica and Ophrys lutea plants all the way. In a shadier part of the walk, this stunning Oprhys was growing reasonably abundantly. I think it is Ophrys heldreichii, although I am far from certain about that. It could be O. scolopax, O. cornuta, O. oestrifera, O. crassicornis or related taxa, and the slightly fatter-flowered one you can see amongst them looks a little like the suggested species/subspecies/variety Ophrys calypsus:

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One of the plants was displaying its flowers all upside-down - quite a strange sight!

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Continuing along, the banks were home to plentiful Ophrys lutea and Orchis italica:

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One particularly striking form of Orchis italica was this plant, which had far deeper colours than normal, giving it a positively "Satanic" expression, quite fitting for the names of these beaches!

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Next, in the banks, I noticed these orchids, which I had never seen before. It wasn't immediately obvious to me what this was, but I have been informed that it is a dark-colour form of Neotinea maculata (Orchis intacta). The flowers were a mere 5-8mm across, but the combined effect on the spike was quite nice:

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The walk continued along the paths with the sea close by, and plenty of Cistus brightening it all up:

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A nice patch of Orchis italica looked out over the Megalo Seitani beach:

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The path turned downhill to head toward the beach, and it was here that I was confronted with another orchid I have never seen before, and which sent me to my books when I reached home. This is the saprophytic or parasitic Limodorum abortivum, and these examples were far more stately and beautiful than anything shown me in books, with a great deep violet blush to everything:

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Anyway...... I descended to the lovely natural beach of Megalo Seitani and ensconced myself with a book for a few hours:

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On returning back the way I came, the sun had moved round and perhaps that helped me spot these orchids in the banks on the way back. I first checked under the flowers for any red colours (wondering if this was yet more of the Ophrys iricolor I had already seen), but, as shown below, they were green-yellow. These are probably plants of the Ophrys fusca group, although I have no idea what its ID really is beyond that:

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As on the way out, the common Anacamptis/Orchis plant was with me on the rocks alongside the path:

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Back at the start of the walk, at Potami, I found some handsome specimens of Ophrys rheinholdii on the banks. This was another branch of the Ophrys genus I had never seen before. The markings on the palate were really incredibly silvery, actually dazzling in the way they reflected the sunlight!

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Finally, walking back to Karlovassi, I noticed this growing the grass verge beside the road. It is probably Ophrys mammosa, which was also the first orchid I had seen on this trip, in Amorgos. So that makes it all nicely bookended!

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Back to the apartment for some splendid sunsets!

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Best wishes.

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Seeking: Aristolochia cathcartii, Encephalartos inopinus, Passiflora incarnata, P. tucumanensis (seeds) Lobelia gloria-montis, L. villosa



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:24 pm 
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Love the Limodorum and the reinholdii. Looks like somewhere else to add to my "I want to go there" list.


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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 4:16 pm 
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I thought I would update this post as I have just returned from Samos (and Chios) and saw a few more orchids. The season is mostly over though, and only late orchids are still in flower there. It's been hot and dry there this year.

There were lots of lovely poppies:

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And also I rather liked the plants of Arum dioscoridis I saw. Not seen this one before:

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All over Samos (and Chios too) Orchis sancta was ubiquitous. Books say this is rare, but it's locally common on these two islands at the moment almost every piece of scrubby grass has them growing out of it no matter where you look!

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The sanctas came in a wide range of colours, from magenta through to very pale pink, almost white. The pinkish-salmon pastel colour was the most common.

There were also some Orchis coriophora (or is it Orchis fragrans?), where the soils were a bit deeper, and these had a range of colours too:

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I think it also hybridises with O. sancta, as shown here:

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Anywhere rocky seemed to be inundated with Anacamptis pyramidalis. They really were lovely, and occasionally spectacular en masse...... but I'm very familiar with it from the UK so didn't go mad with photos:

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It all got a bit samey really, with these three orchids everywhere, but only the dried-up flowerstems of multitudes of now unidentified orchids which were in flower a month previously. I did find a few Serapias in a shady corner - I'm hopeless at identifying Serapias though!

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Then, spotted on a very steep grassy slope, was this stunner. It is Himantoglossum comperianum, very rare indeed, and a superb plant to see:

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Rob

• Email me for site admin issues
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• Orchid growlist | • Orchid wishlist
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Seeking: Aristolochia cathcartii, Encephalartos inopinus, Passiflora incarnata, P. tucumanensis (seeds) Lobelia gloria-montis, L. villosa



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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 9:46 pm 
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Some really great photos.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 8:10 pm 
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Very nice trip, beautiful orchids and very nice photos Rob!

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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 9:45 am 
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Brilliant collection of Photos, thanks for sharing!


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