The Valencia Region offers a wealth of opportunities for visitors to get in touch with nature and to admire numerous species of orchids, making this region a delightful destination for plant and wildlife lovers.
Mediterranean orchids produce microscopic seeds, which have no reserve tissues to support the embryo when it germinates. That is why they must be associated with fungi as soon as they germinate. The fungi provide them with some of their nourishment. These are the so-called ‘mycorrhizae’, which are highly specific to each place and most likely to each species. Besides, because they depend on fungi, these plants cannot live with harmful substances like sulphur and copper. In other words, that is why most orchids only grow in very natural places.
In Valencia Region, there are still good natural patches to look for orchids. Abandon orchards and natural meadows are probably the best habitats.
A total of 70 species of wild orchids have been identified in the Valencia Region, most of them classified as very rare. In addition, numerous uncommon hybrids such as Ophrys x castroviejoi, Ophrys x pielteri, Ophrys x pseudoespeculum, Orchis x bivonae and Ophrys x serrae can be found in the region.
The diverse climate, soils and mountain ranges in the Valencia Region provides the perfect habitat for wide range of orchids. Some live in arid areas at low altitudes, such as the Fan-lipped orchid (Orchis collina) which can be seen in Alicante. On the other hand, others are found in the high mountains: Sierra Mariola and Penyagolosa. For instance, in the Penyagolosa (North of Castellón) you will find Elder-flowered orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) and Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). In addition, in the woods you will find Helleborines (Epipactis kleinii), Red Hellebotine (Cephalanthera rubra) and White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium). What is more, there are small patches with Butterfly orchids (Platanthera), Fragant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and Bird nest orchid (Neottia nidus-avis), among others.
Regarding Sierra Mariola in Alicante, here we will look for Pink butterfly orchid (Anacamptis papilonacea), the gorgeous Lady orchid (Orchis purpurea) and Violet limodore (Limodorum abortivum).
Many of our orchids, particularly those of the genus Ophrys (the most common type in Valencia’s lowlands) have flowers that look like wild bees. This is an adaptation to attract pollinators, which, are looking for a mate.
Among our orchids, there is an endemic species Ophrys lucentina. It is a bee orchid with a distinctive yellow border in the “labellum”. Moreover, we can find other beauties like the Sombre-bee Orchid (Ophrus lupercalis), Dark-bee orchid (Ophrys dyris), the Mirror orchid (Ophrys speculum) and the Yellow Bee orchid (Ophrys lutea) to name just a few.
The genera Orchis is also well represented with gorgeous hybrids like Orchis x bivonae. This is an hybrid from the combination of Italian man orchid (Orchis italica) and Man orchid (Ochis anthropophora). Besides, it is not unusual to find large parched of Bug orchids (Orchis fragans) mixed with Pyramidal orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis).
We cannot overlook the largest of all, the impressive Giant orchid (Himantoglossum robertianum). A rather common specie and one of the earliest species to bloom.
In Valencia region is also possible to find a large number of Helleborine. The most common ones are Narrow-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia), White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) and red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra). However, you might find some restricted range species such as Epipactis cardina, Epipactis tremolsii or Epipactis phyllanthes. They are found in the forested and highest mountains in the region. On the other hand, in the lowlands close to the coast is possible to find two species of Serapias. These are Tongue orchid (Serapia lingua) and the Small-flowered tongue orchid (Serapia parviflora).
Finally, in Autumn we are delighted with the last orchid of the season, the Autumn lady’s tresses (Spiranthes spiralis).
You can read more about the orchids found in the Valencia region and Spain in the following article. We as a local experts organise orchids walks that can be combined with butterflies, dragonflies and birdwatching tours. Please, do not hesitate to contact us for further information.