TONGUE ORCHID

Serapias lingua

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8apr month8may month8jun month8june

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8beetroot flower8purple flower8red flower8brown
inner
inner8green
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZrare

10th May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
All togue orchids, including lingua, have very few flowers in the flower-spike.


10th May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The 'tongue' or lip is the most prominent feature. It is shaped like a (albeit pointed) tongue lacking lobes and is reddish in colour; bright-beetroot in the case of lingua.


10th May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The lighter-coloured 'hoods' of several flowers.


10th May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
All other sepals and petals form a long pointed hood that is whitish-beetroot on the outside.


10th May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The internal surfaces of the hood seem to be very dark red almost black. The lip has numerous darker veins running lengthways, as does the hood.


Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

It is not native to the UK, and has never been found on mainland UK. The above photos were taken in the Lot Valley, France; an area renown for orchids. If England follows the Earth in global warming, it could hop across the channel and take up permanent residence, but according to some botanists, lacks the visa to gain the status of 'native' (although the Author wonders which plants were here before the last ice-age, 110,000 years ago [or before any of the dozen or so other ice-ages in the last 2 million years for that matter]).

Grows in damp meadows, grassland, olive groves, dune slacks and open fields in Italy, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Portugal, Spain, France. It was found growing in Guernsey in 1992 probably as a result of wind-blown red sands from the Sahara desert. Devon is known to get the occasional 'red-rain' from the Sahara.

Several other species from the Serapias genus have also made the occasional trip over to the UK shores for a summer break (some for an extended holiday lasting up to 4 years), either in the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, or Devon, all way down in the warm south of England where most sun-seeking holiday-makers travel. Amongst these are Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid (Serapias cordigera), Small-flowered Tongue Orchid (Serapias parviflora) and Scarce Tongue Orchid (Serapias neglecta).


  Serapias lingua  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Serapias
Serapias
(Tongue-Orchids)

TONGUE ORCHID

Serapias lingua

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]