Anacamptis Rich. is a genus in the Orchidaceae family. Created by the French botanist Louis Claude Richard in 1817, the name is derived from the Greek word anakamptein, meaning "to bend backwards". Since a reorganisation by Pridgeon et al in 1997 the genus contains about 20 species, several of which were transferred from Orchis. The Genus is actually closer related to Serapias, with which it can form rather spectacular intergeneric hybrids. Several species are easy in culture, most are adopted to seasonal dry habitats.


Anacamptis papillionacea (L.) R.M.Bateman, Pridgeon & M.W.Chase is one of the species transferred from Orchis at the end of the 1990s. In several regional subspecies, its range covers Spain and Portugal, the North coast of Africa from Morocco to Tunisia, Italy and part of the Balkans and reaching Azerbaijan in the east. The inflorescence consists of fewer but bigger single flowers than in other Anacamptis, with delicate lines spreading from the base to the rim of the lip.

The plants prefer an open, sunny habitat, but are tolerant of a wide spectrum of soil pH. A lack of hardiness keeps them from reaching higher altitudes. Main time of growth is the wet, Mediterranean winter. The flowers open up between March and the beginning of May, depending on the latitude, and seeds ripen before the dry summer sets in.

The photo shows a plant cultivated by Johannes-Ulrich Urban, who finds them easy as potted specimen in Portugal after a first year of settling in.

Anacamptis papillionacea, Johannes-Ulrich Urban

Anacamptis pyramidalis Rich. commonly called the pyramidal orchid is the type species of the genus and is native to southwestern Eurasia, from western Europe through the Mediterranean region eastwards to Iran. Unfortunately, it is the one species which is rather difficult in culture. Though it can be locally abundant, it is generally threatened by anthropogenic introduction of nitrogen in it's habitats, marking it as a plant sensitive towards competition. The coloration of the flowers varies besides the occasional albino from pale pink to dark purple, with usually darker populations occurring in higher habitats. The photographs 1-3 by Caroline Langensiepen of plants growing in habitat in Wales, photo 4 by Martin Bohnet of a plant on the Swabian Jura.

Anacamptis pyramidalis, Caroline LangensiepenAnacamptis pyramidalis, Caroline LangensiepenAnacamptis pyramidalis, Caroline LangensiepenAnacamptis pyramidalis, Martin Bohnet


Anacamptis x gennarii (Rchb.f.) H.Kretzschmar, Eccarius & H.Dietr. is a nothospecies which is very variable in nature, since both parents, Anacamptis morio? and Anacamptis papillionacea have several subspecies in their large overlapping Mediterranean range. In addition to these natural hybrids there is a special horticultural interest in artificial crosses involving the hardy German form of Anacamptis morio, which usually passes its hardiness on to the offspring, while at the same time allowing the papillionacea parent to dominate the flower form.

The following picture by Martin Bohnet shows a cross between A. morio alba and A. papillionacea rubra, which proved to be hardy in southern Germany.

Anacamptis morio alba x papillionacea rubra, Martin Bohnet

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