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).