Cephalanthera epipactoides

Cephalanthera epipactoides Fisch. & C.A. Mey.

Orchidaceae – Orchid family

Conservation status. Critically Endangered [CR B1ac(iv)+B2ac(iv)]. BDA, CITES(2).

Morphology and biology. Rhizomatous perennial. Stems 1–3(10), up to 35(45) cm high. Leaves 1–5, wide-lanceolate, 2–5 cm long. Inflorescences with 10–30(50) flowers, up to 2/3 of the stem’s length. Flowers white, semi-open, spurred. Fruit a pod. Fl. V (VI), fr. VII. Despite the fact that C. epipactoides has green leaves, its behaviour is like that of saprophytic orchids, in that only flowering individuals are developed each year. Insect pollination. Reproduction by seeds, rarely by vegetative means.

Habitats and populations. Grows in semi-shady places in broad-leaved and juniper scrublands, low-growing deciduous forests and woodland clearings. The population in Likana locality shows significant fluctuations – 100 to 500 individuals developed in different years.

Distribution in Bulgaria. Rhodopi (eastern – Likana locality, south of Ivailovgrad town; once collected at Dupkata hill near Ivailovgrad (now extinct!) and near Dolni Glavanak village); up to 350 m alt.

General distribution. E Mediterranean (Aegean Islands, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey).

Threats. Abandonment of the area, which leads to natural expansion of shrubs over grasslands; overgrazing during the vegetation season (plants are grazed completely by passing flocks) and extreme drought in some years.

Conservation measures taken. Protected species by the Biodiversity Act. Part of the population at Likana locality is protected site, where a demographic study on the species is ongoing. The localities are within a site of the European ecological network Natura 2000 in Bulgaria.

Conservation measures needed. Monitoring of the population; enlargement of the Likana Protected Site and implementation of sustainable measures for maintaining the present status of the vegetation; in case of new growth of specimens at the locality near Dolni Glavanak village, the most appropriate measure will be fencing for ensuring flowering and fruiting.

References. Markova & Cherneva 1994; Petrova 1995; Petrova et al. 2001; Venkova et al. 2003; Delforge 2006.

Author: Antoaneta Petrova

Cephalanthera epipactoides (distribution map)

Cephalanthera epipactoides (drawing)