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Limodorum abortivum.
Limodore à feuilles avortées.
Violet limodore.

It is an original plant from around the Mediterranean and whose flower has nothing to envy to other exotic species due to its size and colour. There are only two species in this genus and the second (Limodorum trabutianum) is morphologically very similar so will often be confused with Limodorum abortivum which is much more widespread. It is also considered a subspecies  and not a full species.

The further north of France you go, the more encounters can become rare. Followers of dry and wooded environments, it will rarely be found in full light but in undergrowth, edges or clearings.  

When its stalk appears, one might think of a purplish asparagus shoot. It rises quite high (from 30 to 70 cm approx) before opening out. It secretes nectar to attract pollinators and also attracts ants that are often found on its flowers. 

Some years, the flowers do not open and it can be self-pollinating. Stranger still, when the stem does not emerge from the surface of the ground, the flowers despite everything developed would also self-fertilize underground.  

Why with aborted leaves? It has leaves, however, but they remain sheathing and atrophied, therefore not very visible. 

This plant failing to synthesize chlorophyll depends on its fungus symbiont for a complementary supply. It was once said to be parasitic, but this is only partly true or even inaccurate if the fungus derives a benefit from it in return, which is often the case with orchid-fungi associations.

Limodores would be close to cephalanthers but genealogically younger.

Click on the photos to enlarge

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