Orchids of Lesvos

© Μιχάλης Μπάκας - Ophrys lesbis

Lesvos, due to the special terrestrial and climatic conditions, has a very rich flora that contribute to the special characteristics of its landscape. The island could be characterized as a "botanical paradise": wild and aromatherapy flowers, rare plants, trees and shrubs.

 If we pay close attention to the wildflowers of the island, we will discover the wonderful world of orchids, which is the pride of nature lovers.

We will find them blooming in various parts of the island from February to June, one of them blooms in autumn, offering very beautiful moments to many nature lovers who are looking for them and even come from abroad to Lesvos to meet them. We are lucky to have more than 100 different species in Lesvos, about half of which we will be able to see all over Greece.

Their first scholar was the Lesbian student of Aristotle Theophrastus, father of ecology, who we  can imagine walking with Aristotle around the gulf of Kalloni, in an environment more or less similar to the one we are lucky to enjoy about 2.5 thousand years later The orchids probably took their name to reflect the resemblance of their double-toothed root to the male genitals, but they are also said to be associated with the mythical Orchis, the offspring of a Nymph and a Satyr, where at a Dionysian celebration he raped a priestess of God and because of this insult wild beasts devoured him. His father asked for forgiveness from Dionysus and he, satisfying Satyr, transformed him into a beautiful flower, the orchid.

Wild orchids can be found everywhere on the planet, except in the ice and desert. They evolved into an environment full of a variety of different pollinating insects and developed many special characteristics, with the result that their study became the interest of many biologists and botanists and their photography was the passion of many amateur nature lovers.

 It is well known that many of them are similar to insects in order to deceive potential pollinators. The orchids in Lesvos extend almost all over the island but mostly in the Southeastern part of the island from the mountain range of Olympus to Plomari and further east to the Amali peninsula, south of Mytilene, and this is explained by the limestone soils preferred by the orchids. The super star of orchids in Greece and botanical attraction of Lesvos is Himantoglossum comperianum, one of the special and rare orchids, where Lesvos is the westernmost point of its spread. Other species that can be found in Lesvos are Ophrys lesbis, Ophrys homeri, Ophrys masticorum, Epipactis persica, Platanthera chlorantha, Himantoglossum caprinum, Cephalanthera rubra and many others (over 90 species).

 It is important to say that all species of the orchid family that grow naturally in Greece, are under a special - strict - protective regime, as they are included in the protected species (of the native flora of table A) of Presidential Decree 67/81 where Article 2 states that "It is prohibited, throughout the country and throughout the year, to collect, transplant, uproot, cut, transport, sell and buy, export from the country, as well as in any way destruction of the species of vegetation mentioned in table A ', after their flowers and fruits, of those named by their scientific name »..».

The main threats to orchids are the destruction of their habitats by rubble, drainage, overgrazing, the use of pesticides and herbicides.

 The existence of wild orchids is an indicator of health for our environment, we are very lucky in Lesvos that we can see so many species, and they definitely deserve our attention and protection.

Michalis Bakas- Environmentalist- Msc Environmental Policy and Management