< Flora
Long Lipped Serapias
Serapias vomeracea

Family Orchid or Orchidaceae is one of the most diverse and the second largest in the plant kingdom - over 23 000 species accepted so far. Because they are very popular among flower's lovers the horticulturists have created so far more than 100,000 hybrids for commercial purposes. In Europe exist about 215 species, while in Bulgaria - about 70 species distributed in 25 genera.

Orchids are found everywhere in the world except the far northern and southern regions, and the permafrost mountain peaks. Their greatest diversity is in tropical regions. In temperate and northern latitudes the orchids are terrestrial species, as in tropical latitude they grow on trees as epiphytes. The Bulgarian orchids are terrestrial species and bloom from early spring until September to October.

The particular geographical location of Strandzha region, its specific climatic conditions and paleontological past (lack of glaciations during the Quaternary), are the reasons to find here floristic elements, a combination unique to Europe. It is not surprising that a great diversity of orchid species inhabits Strandzha mountain; in the Bulgarian part of the mountain, 37 species distributed in 14 genera, have been registered so far.

The Long Lipped Serapias (Serapias vomeracea) is one of the most interesting and beautiful Strandzha orchids. This species grows on the sunny places of little used pasture, on mesophilic meadows or hidden in the bushes. In Bulgaria are known only only 6 to 10 habitats of Long Lipped Serapias (among the southern Black Sea coast, in Strandzha Mountain and the Eastern Rhodopes). The most numerous is the population inhabiting the coastal meadows south of the bay Lipite between the villages Sinemorets and Rezovo. In some years there can be found flourished thousands of orchids. Their stems are 20-50 cm high ended with a cluster consisting of 3 to 10 colors. Most striking is precisely the shape and colors of the flowers. The 21-30 mm long sepals are tapered and collected in a helmet. The labellum consists of three parts, side units are rounded, curved upwards, included in the helmet and the middle one is long and pointed. The flowers are colored in various shades of red and blooming from April to June. The leaves are 4 to 7 in lanceolate shape. The two tubers are underground and have ovoid shape.

The Long Lipped Serapias is rare species, accounted as a Tertiary relict. It is included in the Red Book of Bulgaria and is protected under the Biodiversity Act.

Dr. Svetla Dalakchieva
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