Himantoglossum caprinum  (M. - Bieb.) Sprengel

English Name: Balkan Lizard Orchid

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Photos: Pryce Buckle,


Plants high 60 – 70 cm. Blossoms violet-white with violet ribs and purple spots inside. The lip is 3 – 5 times longer than the other petals. The middle part of the lip is narrow, ribbon like, up to 6 cm long at the beginning of the spiraling.

Flowering time: last days of May - last days of July


“Orchids of Strandja”

S. Uzunova, B. Bergman, K. Njagolov, S. Uzunov

Burgas, 2004


Note: Not placed in “Flora of Republic Bulgaria”, vol. II, Bulg. Acad. Sci. Sofia, (1964)

Distribution in Bulgaria: in bushland, calciphyl, 0 - 1500 m altitude; Conspectus of the Bulgarian Vascular Flora = conspectus&gs_l= Zlc  

Distribution: Southeast Europe, Asia - Asiatic Turkey

Conservation status and threats: protected species in Bulgaria by the Biodiversity Law. Законодателство на Република България: Закон за биологичното разнообразие

Photo(s) taken on 2002-13-06, Arda River valey 

Medical plant:  

Placed by kind permission of the proprietor

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RED DATA BOOK - Electron edittion

Himantoglossum caprinum

Himantoglossum caprinum (M. Bieb.) Spreng.

Himantoglossum hircinum auct. non (L.) Spreng.3, 4

Orchidaceae – Orchid family

Conservation status. Vulnerable [VU B2b(ii,iv)c(iv)]. BDA, HD(IIb), BC, CITES(2).

Morphology and biology. Perennial plant with 2 ovoid tubers. Stems 30–90 cm, with 5–8 grey-green, elliptical leaves. Inflorescences with 20–40 flowers, lax. Sepals and petals form a hood, violet-white, with longitudinal stripes. Labellum trilobed, lateral lobes linear, curved, 9–22 mm long, edges waved; the middle lobe very long, 4.5–8.5 cm, slightly twisted, bifurcate at the end. Spur 4.5–7 mm. Fl. VI, fr. VII. Insect pollination. Reproduction by seeds.

Habitats and populations. Open sunny places, more often on stony limestone soil, extensively used pastures, among shrubs and forest glades in light deciduous forests. Populations usually cover small areas (up to 0.01–1 ha) and comprise up to 50–100 plants, rarely more. Localities with up to 5 ha have been observed only rarely, but these usually have very low densities.

Distribution in Bulgaria. Locally in the whole country; up to 1100 m alt. More common in the karst areas of the Forebalkan, Balkan Range, Znepole Region, Rhodopi Mts (eastern).

General distribution. SE Europe (to Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia northwestwards).

Threats. Local distribution and strongly fragmented populations; afforestation with pines; overgrazing during flowering and fruiting period; abandonment of some territories (in the last decades). In the 1970–80s the change of land use of so called “abandoned areas” into summer house areas resulted in the destruction of many populations.

Conservation measures taken. Protected species by the Biodiversity Act. Some of the localities fall in protected areas (Sinite Kamani, Rusenski Lom and Shumensko Plateau Nature Parks; Longoza, Ostritsa and Alibotush Strict Nature Reserves; Lakatnishki Skali, Likana and Dupkata Protected Sites, etc.), as well as in many sites of the European ecological network Natura 2000 in Bulgaria.

Conservation measures needed. Preserving the habitats of the species and their sustainable management; raising public awareness about the conservation value of the species.

References. Stojanov 1964; Petrova & Gjuleva 1994; Petrova et al. 2001; Radoslavova 2002; Gerasimova & Petrova 2003; Grozeva et al 2004; Delforge 2006.

Author: Antoaneta Petrova

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