Croatian Flora – Endem Orchids 2014 SI

Croatian Flora – Endem Orchids 2014

To the genus Ophrys from the Orchid family (Orchidaceae) belong even up to 250 species of many variants and vast spreading – throughout the whole Mediterranean area to Caucasus. In Croatian flora Ophrys is the most numerous genus of orchids (Orchidaceae) with more than 50 species and subspecies, which are most often found in the Mediterranean biogeographic region. The ophrys’ flowers have developed during evolution extremely complicated structure, tightly associated with insect pollination, imitating perfectly by their look and smell the females of particular species. The perianth is composed of six small leaves (tepale): three outer leaves are usually more simply built and coloured from the three inner leaves. One of the three inner leaves is most often considerably different from the rest and forms the so called labellum– a lip turned downwards, strikingly coloured and accentuated by the shiny ornament (the so called mirror or speculum) and often also by “jungle eyes“. When an insect lands on the lip (labellum) with the intention to mate with the flower which the insect recognised as a “ female“ of its own species, a special coherent mass of pollen, the so called pollinarium sticks to its head or abdomen. In other flower the pollinarium reaches the stigma of the pistil and performs the pollination. The fruit is a capsule with many tiny seeds.

The research conducted in the area around the spring of the river Zrmanja in 1999 discovered an endemic species from the huge generic group of the late spider-orchids (Ophrys fuciflora), named Mt. Dinara-orchid (O. dinarica). By its aspect it is a variable species which can grow more than 50 cm high. The three outer leaves of the perianth are most often of pink or violet colour with the notable greenish vein. Brownish-red lip (labellum) is velvety with intensively coloured mirror. Mt. Dinara-orchid blossoms later than other kinds of ophrys: from the middle of May to the end of June, on dry lawns, in shrubberies and bright groves. It is spread also in great number of populations on the very small area between the spring of the river Zrmanja and the town of Sinj.
The Mt. Dinara-orchid is a species strictly protected by law.

Though most numerous in tropical areas and best known as air plants (epiphytes) –plants growing on other plants, mostly trees – in tropical areas and best known epiphytes, the orchidaceae or orchids  are also vastly spread as geophytes  in temperate areas of Earth: in Europe there grow about  50 genera with at least 500 species. One of the most unusual genera is for sure serapias (lat. Serapias) spread in about 20 species and subspecies throughout south Europe to Asia Minor. By the number of species (about 80) and the density of populations the Istrian peninsula counts among the richest orchid habitats in Europe. There is a real paradise of Orchidaceae in the most southern part of Istria called Cape Kamenjak. The area is also a classic founding of the endemic Istrian serapias (Serapias istriaca) described in 1997.
This orchid grows up to 30 centimetres high. The stalk is in lower part greenish and towards the top purple and the flowers are dark grey-violet to purple, with darker veins and gather into inflorescence, composed of three to six flowers. On the flower especially prominent is the hanging front part of the lip (epichilum), up to three centimetres long and in central part covered by long, bright hairs. The outer leaves of the perianth form a helm-like structure.
Istrian serapias blossoms in May and June on the meadows and in bushes in the south of Istria. They grow in smaller groups with a number of other kinds of orchidaceae with whom they often interbreed. In Croatian flora there grow about ten species of the genus serapias. 
Named after the invented God Serapis, whose mission was to connect two great cultures after the defeat of Egypt by Alexander the Great (in the 3rd century B.C.), the genus serapias attracts pollinators by the look of potential shelter for laying eggs.  The pollination of serapias is actually based on the temperature difference between the inner part of the flower and its surrounding: attracted by the warmth from the dark inside of the “helm” the insects enter into the flower looking for shelter and thereby pollinate it.
Istrian serapias is a species strictly protected by law.

Together with some other generic and endemic species the Liburnian orchid (Ophrys liburnica) belongs to the group of early- blossoming orchids with small flowers (of the wide generic group of early spider orchids (O. sphegodes). Early spider orchids belong to the best known and most widely spread, but also the most variable species of orchids (orchidaceae). They are wide-spread throughout almost whole Europe, including numerous subspecies, varieties and crossbreeds of local occurrence. Liburnian orchid is one such Illyric-Adriatic stenoendemic plant which blossoms already in March in small number of habitats along the Croatian coastline, from Istria to Korčula. It has been described on the basis of specimens collected in year 2002 on the island of Cres.
It reaches the height of up to 30 centimetres. The flowers develop separately or several in group, in a loosen blossom. The three outer leaves of the perianth are most often greenish while the inner ones can also be more prominently coloured. The lip (labellum) is dark and hairy, with a bare, blue pattern (mirror) in the form of the letter „H“ and “jungle eyes“, which contribute to the look of an insect.
The scientific name for Liburnian orchid originated from the Latin adjective liburnicus, derived from the name of Illyric sailorly folk Liburnians, which inhabited the North Adriatic costal area in the far 9th B.C. One of the frequent features of early spire orchids - which means also of the Liburnian orchid - is that their flowers immediately after fertilisation entirely lose their colour becoming unsightly-greenish and unattractive to pollinators..
Orchids (Orchidaceae) – the largest and in the terms of evolution the most branched plant family on Earth with incredible almost 900 genera and more than 25,000 species – are in Europe on the always getting longer list of plants with uncertain chances of survival. Also the abundance of populations of all orchids has decreased in recent decades mainly because of fragmentation and loss of habitats (rockery grasslands, low open shrubberies, abandoned cultures), which are overgrown by woods.

Technical Details

Issue Date: 11.04.2014
Designer: Sabina Rešić, painter and designer, Zagreb
Printer: Zrinski - Čakovec
Process: Multicoloured Offsetprint + Varnish
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 35,50 x 31,24 mm
Values: 0.37, 0.40