Orchids of Romania – taxonomy, morphology, pollination strategies, habitats and conservation

N.E.D.G. Anghelescu, H. Kertész, L. Balogh, N. Kigyossy, M. Balogh, M.I. Georgescu, S.A. Petra, F. Toma
This is the first, most recent description of all Romanian orchid taxa known to date. Therefore, this article reviews for the first time, the taxonomy of Romanian orchids and describes in detail the morphology, pollination strategies and habitats of each genus, emphasizing the conservation and protection status of the most vulnerable, endangered species. This extensive, unique botanical study, undertaken between 2017 and 2021, resulted in a taxonomical evaluation of Romanian orchid flora, which is represented by 3 subfamilies and 26 genera that comprise approximately 71 species, 14 subspecies, 49 varieties and forms. Additionally, we documented 6 intrageneric hybrids and 1 intergeneric hybrid, new-to-science, published in 2021, as × Pseudorhiza nieschalkii (Senghas) P.F.Hunt nothosubsp. siculorum H. Kertesz & N. Anghelescu, 2020, nothosubsp. nov. (IPNI LSID 77216534-1). The species list remains open, with discoveries being made each year. Romanian endemic and rare taxa such as Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. transsilvanica, Dactylorhiza cordigera susbsp. siculorum, Epipactis danubialis and Epipactis guegelii are described in detail. Since 12 genera of Romanian orchids are deceptive and do not secrete any nectar or other food rewards for their pollinators, deceit pollination strategies are greatly emphasized in this review. Various mimicry strategies and deception mechanisms such as generalized food deception (Anacamptis, Dactylorhiza), food-deceptive (Batesian) floral mimicry (Traunsteinera), brood/nest-site mimicry (Malaxis), shelter mimicry (Cypripedium), rendezvous attraction (Anacamptis papilionacea), sexual deceptive mimicry (Ophrys), are also described. Unlike other European countries where some species are very rare or even extinct, in Romania, they are still well represented by numerous populations that occur in relatively constant numbers. The best examples are Cypripedium calceolus (extinct in Greece) and Epipogium aphyllum (almost brought to extinction in the UK), which are generously distributed in many locations. Nevertheless, we thought it is imperious to draw readers’ attention to the vulnerability of Romanian orchids and the numerous dangers, which threaten their existence mainly due to habitat loss (anthropogenic factors).
Anghelescu, N.E.D.G., Kertész, H., Balogh, L., Kigyossy, N., Balogh, M., Georgescu, M.I., Petra, S.A. and Toma, F. (2023). Orchids of Romania – taxonomy, morphology, pollination strategies, habitats and conservation. Acta Hortic. 1368, 371-390
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2023.1368.47
orchids, Romania, pollination, deceit, mimicry, morphology, hybrid, conservation

Acta Horticulturae