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18-22 May 2014

Some notes about orchid sites we visited during our trip through Italy's central mountain areas. The trip was not just for orchid but as much to experience the magnificent scenery in this part of Italy. Below are some of the sites that we came across during our journey. Sites 1-7 are sites in the eastern outskirts of the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo. This is the area that I found most interesting during our trip. Some extra days could be needed here. We started our tour in the southern end of the planned route. The idyllically located "Hotel del Lago" at the lake Lago di Scanno became our stopover for our first two nights.

View from Lago di Scanno
Himantoglossum adriaticum Himantoglossum adriaticum


18 May 2014
Site 1.
Just north of Lago di Scanno (SS479). Old gravel pit / quarry to the right of the road with some shrubs.


Himantoglossum adriaticum   ca. 50
Neotinea tridentata
Orchis anthropophora






Site 2
Shortly after site 1 there is a road to the left towards Villa Lago. A few hundred meters into that road there are interesting slopes on both sides of the road.

Anacamptis morio
Himantoglossum adriaticum
Ophrys riojana
(O. sphegodes sp. with small flowers)
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis purpurea
+ possible hybrid



Site 3

Different color forms of Orchis mascula x pauciflora

Road SS479 towards Villetta Barrea. The road rises here through long, sharp serpentine turns. After the last hairpin on the right side there is a small pull of, the only one at the entire way up to the top. A few hundred meters before the pull of, in the slope to the right, there was fine stands of the hybrid Orchis mascula x pauciflora. There seemed to be all possible variations from almost O. mascula to almost O. pauciflora. Some clean O. mascula was not seen, however, there were plenty of O. pauciflora further down the road.




Site 4

Orchis pallens Orchis pallens

 

Road SS479 south of Scanno (about 12 km south of the lake) towards Villetta Barrea shortly after coming up from the serpentine curves. Park by an old stone house, "Magazzino". At the slope to the right, just before you come to the house, there was a lot of Dactylorhiza sambucina, red and yellow and Orchis pallens.









Site 5

View with A. morio at site 5 View with A. morio at site 5

We crossed the Passo Goli, but at this time there were only a few D. sambucina. We continued on SS479 passed Viletta Barrea and followed then road SS83 from Barrea towards Alfedena. Here the road goes at the level of 1000-1100 m through a very beautiful and botanically rich area. Rocky scrub alternate with grassy fields. All the way from where you come up from Barrea to Alfedena is of interest. Below are the three stops we did before it was time to return "home" again.
Shortly after entering the plain (coming up from the valley) to the right there is a small grassy hill (a tiny electric / telephone line goes over it). Very orchid rich area.


Anacamptis morio
Neotinea ustulata
Orchis mascula
Orchis purpurea



Site 6

 

About 3 km further on, we made a stop just before the second hairpin curve down towards Alfedena. We parked in a small opening in the mountain slopes to the right of the road. 

Ophrys dinarica Ophrys dinarica

 Anacamptis morio

Himantoglossum  adriaticum bud

Neotinea tridentata
Neotinea ustulata
Ophrys dinarica
Ophrys promontori
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis pauciflora




Site 7

We continued down to the next hairpin curve, a very sharp left curve. In the grassy area between the roads before and after the harpin there where lots of Ophrys dinarica. Parking can be done on a track that goes off to the right in the middle of the hairpin.

Anacamptis morio
Neotinea ustulata
Ophrys dinarica,
different colors

We turned back here but along the roads on the other side Alfedena (east of) it will also be fine orchid areas.




19 May 2014
After leaving the hotel at Lago di Scanno was the course northward. The sites 8-19 are at Parco Nazionale Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga.


Site 8
 

A detour, heading towards Castel del Monte, was made along a road southwest of Capestrano. Bushy (pine, broom, etc.) slopes to the left of the road.


Ophrys brutia (unsure naming of small O. sphegodes sp.)
Ophrys lucana (or Ophrys fusca subsp. lucana)
 
The area around Capestrano gave little reward in respect of orchids. Mostly completely dried up.





Site 9

Himantoglossum adriaticum dug up by wild pigs Himantoglossum adriaticum dug up by wild pigs

From Capestrano we chose a smaller road through the Villa Santa Lucia degli Abruzzi up to Castel del Monte. Our first stop we made at a track that went backward at the right side of the road.


Himantoglossum adriaticum, some was dug up by wild pigs that has ate the bulbs but left rest of the plants.
Orchis anthropophora





Site 10

Ophrys classica (?) Ophrys classica (?)

After a kilometer or so, one more stop at a track to the right.

Cephalanthera damasonium
Himantoglossum adriaticum
Ophrys bertolonii
Ophrys classica
(?)
Orchis purpurea









Site 11

One last stop before Castel del Monte. Rocky grasslands with sparse scrub vegetation.

Anacamptis morio
Himantoglossum adriaticum
Neotinea tridentata
Ophrys bertolonii
Ophrys sphegodes
sp. (with small flowers)


Site 12

Dactylorhiza sambucina with a magnificent view of Gran Sasso Dactylorhiza sambucina with a magnificent view of Gran Sasso

After Castel del Monte, we continued north up towards Campo Imperiatore. Up here, on the mountain plateau, at about 1 600 m, it was early spring with snow in some places. However, it was fresh snow from severe weather some days earlier and whose influence was clearly visible at D. sambucina. All plants here were damaged at one side while the other side was fine. In addition to D. sambucina no orchids was found until the road began to lean down again. However, there were plenty of other spring flowers such as violets and gentian. Fantastic views towards the Gran Sasso and its highest peaks.

 


Site 13

From site 12 we drove over the mountain plateau about 14 km. There, a road goes to the left, signposted San Stefano de Sessanio, which we followed. After that the road started to turn down, we saw Orchis militaris here and there in the slopes.
1480 m.ö.h.

Ophrys sphegodes sp. (small flowers)
Orchis militaris
Orchis purpurea




20 May 2014
After spending the night in Barisciano Albergo Selva right next to the main road (SS17), we continued our journey next morning.


Site 14

Ophrys bertolonii x incubacea Ophrys bertolonii x incubacea

From the Albergo we drove SS17 towards the southeast to search the area around Collepietro. About 450 m after the exit from the main road there are grass slopes to the left (ancient ruins and lot of junk further on the right side of the road). Interesting area! To the right, below the road, there were some giant stands of Himantoglossum adriaticum.


Anacamptis morio
Himantoglossum adriaticum
Neotinea tridentata
Ophrys bertolonii
Ophrys incubacea
Ophrys bertolonii x incubacea
Ophrys brutia
(?)
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis italica






Site 15

Ophrys lucana Ophrys lucana


We continued up to Collepietro and up to the cemetery on the outskirts. Here behind the wall around the cemetery were fine orchid areas.

Anacamptis morio
Ophrys bertolonii
Ophrys incubacea
Ophrys lucana
Ophrys classica
(?)
Orchis italica










Site 16

Ophrys riojana Ophrys riojana

We returned to Barisciano and further north on SS17 which we then left and followed a road towards Paganica and Assergi. About 2 km north of Assergi (SP86) on the right side there was nice grasslands with scattered deciduous forest. Interesting area that should have been spent more time on.


Anacamptis morio
Neotinea tridentata
Orchis purpurea
Ophrys bertolonii
Ophrys ausonia
Ophrys riojana
Ophrys promontorii x riojana
??







Site 17

Anacamptis morio Anacamptis morio

Road SP86 reaches up to almost 1500 m before heading down again and runs into the SS80. Some km before the junction, there were above the slope to the right, large amounts of green-winged orchid.

Anacamptis morio
Dactylorhiza sambucina


Site 18

Following the SS80 about 3.5 km there is, just before a right turn, a grassy slope between the road and forest edge above. There is lot of Orchis mascula subsp. speciosa.

Orchis mascula subsp. speciosa
Dactylorhiza fuchsii
(rosette of leaves)



Site 19

Shortly after site 16 the road SS577 take off to the left. This goes through beautiful scenery along Lago de Campotosto. At Amatrice it goes into SR260, which continue out to SS4. About 31 km after having turned in to SS577 there is a path in to a wooded area.


Dactylorhiza fuchsi (leaves)
Neottia ovata (bud)
Orchis pallens (flowering)














20 May 2014

For the night we took in at the Hotel Salicone outside the old city walls around Norcia. Well worth a visit is the old town inside the city walls. The day was otherwise devoted to the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini.













 

Neotinea ustulata Neotinea ustulata

Site 20
 

From Norcia we took off to the southeast in order to take into road SP477 towards Castelluccio, a small and very old mountain village, perched on the giant mountain plateau Piano Grande. The plateau is largely cultivated and known for the colorful plots, which can be viewed from above at the mountain sides around the plateau, later in the summer.


After about 8 km from where we left the SS685, which is the main road from Norcia, there is a pull off to the right. Above the steep slope to the left of the road there are nice areas with lot of orchids. Sparse forest, bushes and grass.

Anacamptis morio
Neotinea ustulata
Ophrys sphegodes 
sp. (small flowers)
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis pauciflora
Orchis simia






Site 21

 

After passing the large plateau, Piano Grande, just above 1200 meters above sea level, and even Castelluccio, we made a stop at a gray (steel) house on the left side, 21 km from site 20. Walk approximately 50-100 m back along the road, here are slopes with grasslands to the right.


Anacamptis morio
Dactylorhiza sambucina
Orchis mascula
Orchis pauciflora








Site 22

Orchis anthropophora x simia Orchis anthropophora x simia

Via Castel sul Nera and Visso we came out on the SP209 and followed this to the left. After about 4.5 km, a narrow (very narrow) road left towards Sacco Vescio. After nearly 2 km there is a sign with a “3” (km-sign). Above slopes to the left of the road there was very nice areas. Grasslands with sparse scrub vegetation. Beware of barbed wire along the edge of the road slope. This site became for the journey the far most species-rich site.
About 700 m above sea level.


Anacamptis morio
Anacamptis pyramidalis,
bud
Cephalanthera longifolia
Dactylorhiza fuchsii,
bud
Himantoglossum adriaticum
Ophrys brutia (?)
Ophrys dinarica
Ophrys fusca sp.
Ophrys incubacea
Ophrys insectifera
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis anthropophora x simia
Orchis italica
Orchis purpurea
Orchis simia



Site 23

Unusually form of Ophrys dinarica Unusually form of Ophrys dinarica

Back to the road SP209 and further north for about 8.5 km. Here the road goes into a tunnel. Directly after the tunnel there is a road to the right signposted, among others, to Apenninio. Further on the road from Apenninio is very narrow, almost overgrown in places but with asphalt and is nice to drive. The area along the entire route looks interesting and the following site must be regarded as an example of proper place to park. It is about 3.5 km from the crossroads at SP209 unpaved roads take off both to right and left.


Cephalanthera longifolia
Neotinea tridentata
Neotinea ustulata
Ophrys dinarica
Ophrys insectifera
Ophrys sphegodes
sp. (small flowers)
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis anthropophora x purpurea
Orchis purpurea





 

The night was spent at Villa Fornari just outside Camerino. A nicely restored old farm. We now left the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, the third of the great national parks, and continued north. Our orchid searching took consequently an end although we encountered such even further on.

Species not mentioned above but which were found in full bloom on our way were: A. pyramidalis, N. nidus-avis, D. fuchsii and G. conopsea. We could therefore note that we had seen both D. sambucina and A. pyramidalis in full bloom with some day apart. In Sweden this would have been early spring and mid-summer within 24 hours.

Finally a greeting from a rest area with a stream rippling in the woods that shaded us against the nearly 30 degrees out in the sun. A very nice memory from an equally very enjoyable trip.


Species mentioned above:
Anacamptis morio
Anacamptis pyramidalis
Cephalanthera damasonium
Cephalanthera longifolia
Dactylorhiza fuchsii 
Dactylorhiza sambucina 
Gymnadenia conopsea
Himantoglossum adriaticum
Neotinea tridentata
Neotinea ustulata
Neottia nidus-avis
Neottia ovata
Ophrys ausonia
Ophrys bertolonii
Ophrys bertolonii x incubacea
Ophrys brutia
Ophrys classica
Ophrys dinarica
Ophrys incubacea
Ophrys insectifera
Ophrys fusca subsp. lucana
Ophrys promontorii
Ophrys promontorii x riojana ??
Ophrys riojana
Orchis anthropophora
Orchis anthropophora x purpurea
Orchis anthropophora x simia
Orchis italica
Orchis mascula subsp. mascula
Orchis mascula subsp. speciosa
Orchis mascula x pauciflora
Orchis militaris
Orchis pallens
Orchis pauciflora
Orchis simia


Comments

The most common species during this trip was without comparison Anacamptis morio but only on the higher-lying areas they were fresh. Even Orchis purpurea and Orchis anthropophora was often seen, sometimes in large numbers. These were at their height of flowering. Orchis pauciflora and Neotinea tridentata were also frequent seen species and seemed to be at their best. At many sites Ophrys sphegodes-species was found, always with small flowers. Most of the naming above have been made after returning home from pictures and have to be believed somewhat uncertain. A nice discovery was Ophrys promontorii that I had not previously seen outside Gargano.