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This genus is accepted, and its native range is Macaronesia, S. Central Europe, Medit. to Caucasus.
Serapias bergonii

General Description

Rootstock tuberous, tubers 2 or 3(-5), ovoid to globose, entire, sessile or stipitate. Stem glabrous. Leaves narrowly linear to broadly lanceolate, erect or sometimes folded and curved, cauline, with spotted or 364 unspotted sheathing bases. Inflorescence usually elongate, sparse to dense, 2-10(-20)-flowered; floral bracts conspicuous, large, leafy, mostly exceeding nowers, with numerous longitudinal nerves. Sepals and petals connivent to form an acute to acuminate hood. Sepals narrowly elliptic to ovate-elliptic, free at apex. Petals ovate-elliptic, ovate -subulate, tapering to a long fine point. Labellum spurless, three-lobed, usually broader and longer than sepals, divided into a basal hypochile with erect side lobes and bearing two ridge-like calli arising laterally from lower edges of stigmatic cavity, extending on to a hirsute disc, or a single basal callosity (S. lingua group), and a distal tongue-like, narrowly elliptic to broadly ovate or cordate, three-nerved, pendent or recurved epichile. Column elongate, directed obliquely forward; anther-connective prominent, 7(-10) mm long; stigmatic cavity elongate or circular; rostellum small; pollinia two, each with a caudicle attached to a single viscidium placed in a simple bursicle. Ovary cylindrical to fusiform, sessile, not twisted, glabrous. (JW).


Members of the Mediterranean genus Serapias grow on alkaline to slightly acid soils, normally with a pH of 6.5-8.0 and a low ion content (Voth 1976, cited in Rasmussen 1995). Serapias species grow in both dry and wet soils in a range of habitats including dry grasslands and shrublands, damp pastures and meadows, and-dune slacks, cultivated terraces, olive groves, and open coniferous woodlands (Delforge 1995; Davies et al. 1988). Apart from S. neglecta, which is restricted to coastal areas below 600 m, most species of the genus can grow at relatively high elevations of up to 1200 m (Delforge 1995).
Serapias typically flowers from March to May and outside the Mediterranaean may flower even later in June (Delforge 1995). A rosette of winter-green leaves is formed the previous autumn, from which the inflorescence develops in spring with the flowers opening as the spike elongates (Rasmussen 1995). Fruit-sets ranging from 40%-90% have been recorded among Serapias populations in southern Portugal (Neiland 1994), which are high given that the genus is nectarless (Neiland and Wilcock 1998). Following dispersal of seeds plants of Serapias sencsce completely and survive the dry summer season in the Mediterranean as tubers (Fuchs and Ziegenspeck 1927, cited in R asmusscn 1995). The juvenile stage may be relatively short in Serapias because, in culture, 60% of plants have been found to flower three years after sowing under glasshouse conditions (Voth 1976, cited in Rasmussen 1995). Seedling development in the field is probably assisted by endophytes, and species of Serapias have been shown to be compatible at least with Tulasnella-like fungi at this stage in their life history (Clements et al. 1986). Serapias may form large colonies on suitable sites, but some species remain quite rare, such as S. neglecta and S. parviflora (Davies et al. 1988; Delforge 1995). (RN).


An essentially Mediterranean genus of 19 currently recognized species distributed from the Azores and Canary Islands in the west to the Caucasus in the east, south to North Africa and north as far as Brittany in France. Serapias lingua was recently recorded from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, and S. parviflora has been found in Cornwall, England. (JW).


Tubers of some species are collected in several eastern Mediterranean countries and parts of the Middle East for the production of salep. (JW).

Native to:

Albania, Algeria, Austria, Azores, Baleares, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Corse, Cyprus, East Aegean Is., France, Greece, Italy, Kriti, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Morocco, North Caucasus, Palestine, Portugal, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Switzerland, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Yugoslavia

Introduced into:

Great Britain

Serapias L. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Sp. Pl.: 949 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J., Chase, M.C. & Rasmussen, F.N. (2001). Orchidoideae (Part 1) Genera Orchidacearum 2: 1-416. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

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