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Nigritella rhellicani (Orchidaceae) 177 21
Nigritella rhellicani (common name: dark vanilla orchid or black vanilla orchid) is a European species of orchid.
This species grows 5–22 centimeters high, with a dense, globose to the cylindrical inflorescence of red-brown to chocolate-brown flowers with a chocolate-like aroma. Some plants, especially in the south of the species’ range have noticeably paler flowers
Nigritella rhellicani is indisputably the most widespread and frequently encountered of the seventeen species currently comprising the N. nigra group. Its range takes it from the western Alps, eastwards to the Carpathians, and although unconfirmed, probably into Russia. It can be abundant in its favored locations, where it grows in short alpine turf as low as 1,000 meters up to a recently recorded altitude of over 3,000 meters. N. rhellicani together with N. austriaca are colloquially known as the "Black Vanilla Orchids" and are frequently found growing alongside each other. In typical plants there are easily discerned distinguishing characteristics, unfortunately however the natural variation within both species can often render accurate identification all but impossible except to the professional scientific eye.
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* This article was originally published here