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Anacamptis pyramidalis owes its name to the form of the inflorescence which can be quite impressive in contrast to the thin stem. The plant can grow to a height of 20 to 60 cm. The foliage leaves - lanceolate, green and unspotted - form a rosette at base. Further up they embrace the stem neatly. The pyramidal form of the inflorescence is accentuated expecially in the early bloom, the later form is more conical. There are about 10 to 60 flowers, tightly arranged, each with an downward directed spur and supported by a long bract. The two petals form a hood with the dorsal sepal. The other sepals have a lanceolate form and are spreaded horizontally. The labellum is deeply three-lobed with two lateral lobes almost as long as the middle lobe - this one can be sometimes slightly divided. Outstanding are two longitudinal ridges at the base of the labellum. The two pollinia are attached to a commun sticky plate, the viscidium.
In 1753, Linné registered the plant as Anacamptis pyramidalis. For a long time Anacamptis was considered to be a monospecific genus until Richard M. Bateman and others broadened the understanding of the neat relationship with other orchids.
White colour of flowers
The flowers of Anacamptis pyramidalis are mostly rose, pink or red, sometimes deeply red. Otherwise, the variability of the species is relatively limited, but the general strength of the plants can vary due to the conditions of the habitat. The white flowered plants seems to be quite special. They are representing a variation of their own, since there are habitats where only plants with white flowers can be found. Paul Delforge (Guide des orchidées d'Europe, 2005, p.277) classifies the white form as Anacamptis pyramidals var. nivea and describes it as a plant with pure white flowers which have a shorter spur (5-10 mm) than the standard species (10-16 mm). H.Kretzschmar et al. (Die Orchideengattungen..., 2007, p.57) only refers to an inflorescence "albiflora". In regions where the white plants seem to constitute a variety of their own, they are more common than in other regions, where they are quite rare.
Habitat, bloom and distribution
Anacamptis pyramidalis is growing on meadows and pastures in the mountains, up to 2000 m, as well as in macchia habitats or grassland in the direct vicinity of the sea. Bloom is from March to July. The species can be found in most parts of Europe, with the exception of the Northeast.
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