1. Fields East of Sigri Faneromini road




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The Orchids of Lesvos make for a great distraction for the birdwatcher, especially during the middle of the day if it’s hot, and a fantastic holiday for the botanist.

There a number of particularly beautiful flowers on the island, including the very rare Himantoglossum comperianum (Komper’s Orchid), although our particular favourite is Platanthera holmboei (Holmboei’s Butterfly Orchid)

We’d strongly advise a copy of either “Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East” by Pierre Delforge or “Field Guide to Orchids of Britain and Europe” by Karl Peter Buttler, also “The Bee Orchids of Greece” by Zissis Antonopoulos is excellent.

It’s great fun finding them and for those like us, more fun trying to separate some of the species, especially the Ophrys family!


Our advice is unless you’re absolutely sure, take a photo just in case!
Key notes
The following site information is by no means an exhaustive list of the species found (for more details on species refer to the full list). However, the sites provide an excellent opportunity for the visitor to see much of what the island has to offer.

All these sites have been discovered by ourselves from a number of years exploring the island.


Without doubt there are other sites awaiting discovery, and some which we are aware of but have not listed here due to the sensitivity of the area/species or because the information has been given to us by third parties who wish to withhold the locations.

It is strongly advised that you purchase a copy of the road map code 212 of the island of Lesvos. With the exception of one site, all the others can be located using this map. The one that is not (site 16) has directions below.


Enjoy your time on the island and we’d appreciate any reports that you may have of these or other locations.
1. Fields East of Sigri - Faneromini road

Anacamptis pyramidalis
Anacamptis pyramidalis albiflora

Ophrys bucephala (near island endemic, only recently found in very small numbers on mainland Turkey and neighbouring islands) 

Ophrys mammosa

Orchis laxiflora

Orchis sancta
Serapias carica
2. Track off to the right of Andissa – Lapsarna track

Turn off the main road to your right immediately on exiting the sharp hairpin bend as you leave Andissa. After 0.5km take the first tree lined track on your right and park on the left before you start to descent down hill. The small field on your right may hold



Orchis simia

Orchis sancta
3. Bank enclosed by hairpin bend & new school as you exit Andissa heading west

Ophrys bucephala 

Ophrys cinereophila (Smaller member of the Fusca group than pelinaea)
Ophrys lesbis

Ophrys pelinaea
Ophrys minutula
Ophrys mammosa

Ophrys sicula
Orchis collina
4. Banks on bends adjacent to Andissa - Gavathas road

Anacamptis pyramidalis
Anacamptis pyramidalis albiflora

Ophrys lesbis

Ophrys minutula a late April flowering member of the Oestrifera group. Found only on Lesvos and very rarely other islands close by. There appears to be some differences between plants. Sepals and petals can be from white to light mauve, and the length of the horns can be from very short to very long. This has resulted in some people suggesting there is more than one species. Zissis Antonopoulos thinks they are simply variations of the same species. Until different pollinators can be found, or more in depth scientific research has been carried out, I'll stick to the one species for this late April/May flowering ophrys.
Orchis tridentata
5-6. Upper Potamia valley south side track

Dactylorhiza romana

Dactylorhiza romana var. albiflora

Limodorum abortivum

Orchis collina

Rhododendron luteum
7. Kalloni - Petra main road - woodland north of Kalloni

Limodorum abortivum

Orchis intacta

Orchis simia

Serapias parviflora
8-9. Roadside woodland adjacent to main road

There are a few accessible pull off points along the main road. Be careful when you stop and come off the road completely! We tend to use the old bits of road that have been straightened by recent road improvements.



Limodorum abortivum

Orchis fragrans

Orchis papilionacea ssp. heroica
Orchis papilionacea ssp. heroica var. albiflora

Orchis provencialis

Ophrys masticorum

Ophrys minutula
10. Track on right before Lambou Mili

As you approach Lambou Mili from Kalloni the main road descends quite quickly, with views to the right of Mt. Olympus. 0.5km before you enter the village of Lambou Mili there is a large green processing factory on your right. Immediately uphill from this there is a track which cuts through the main road embankment (also on your right) pull in here and park.



Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys umbilicata

Ophrys speculum

Orchis italica

Orchis lactea

Orchis lactea var. albiflora

Orchis morio

Orchis morio ssp. picta

Orchis papilionacea ssp. heroica

Orchis provencialis

Orchis sancta

Serapias parviflora

 

11-14. Fields and roadside banks along track to Pigi



Ophrys ferrum-equinum
Ophrys homeri (the islands dominant member of the Holoserica group)

Ophrys iricolor

Ophrys labiosa

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys cinereophila

Ophrys masticorum

Ophrys minutula

Ophrys orphanidea

Ophrys phryganae

Ophrys sicula

Ophrys speculum

Orchis italica

Orchis morio

Orchis morio ssp. picta

Orchis morio ssp. albanica
Orchis sancta

Serapias bergonii

Serapias parviflora

Serapias vomeracea

15. Fields either side of main road just south of main junction to Plomari

The semi flooded fields here hold



Orchis laxiflora

Orchis palustris

Orchis palustris ssp. dinsmorei

Orchis palustris ssp. elegans

Orchis palustris ssp. pseudolaxiflora
16.Track to Plati (not shown on 212 edition map)

Take the main road to Asomatos and shortly afterwards turn left onto a newly surfaced road signed to Agh. Anargyri. Follow this road for 2.5km and you will pass a track on your left to Sykounda. Almost immediately after this track, two tracks join again from the left as they meet the road. Take the left track and you will almost immediately come across orchids in the olive groves. Continue on this track up to the stony hill top. You will finally reach a crossing of another track. The stony field opposite you is particularly interesting.



Ophrys leochroma

Ophrys masticorum

Ophrys minutula
Ophrys umbilicata

Orchis italica

Orchis morio

Orchis morio var. albiflora
Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis quadripunctata
Orchis tridentata
Serapias parviflora

Serapias vomeracea
17. Track to Pigadakia

Orchis laxiflora grow in the semi flooded fields and front gardens of the houses
18. Agh. Ioannis Theologos

Orchis morio

Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis quadripunctata
Orchis tridentata
19. West base of Olympus summit

Himantoglossum comperianum (The one everyone wants to find, but you will be very lucky to see in flower before the 2nd week of May). Drive up the track signed for Mt. Olympus off the main road to Ambeliko, until the west sheer face of the mountain is right in front of you. You will start to descend gradually after climbing constantly and an open field will appear on your right with a turning into it. Park here and the orchids can be found right by the road. Orchis sancta can also be found here.
20. Sanatorium (Agiassos)

The area around the sanatorium is particularly prolific for its variety of orchid species. It’s best to park near the building (there is a lane on the far side, which is a good pull off) and explore on foot. The track signed with a wooden marker just before you reach the main gates to the sanatorium is excellent for orchids on the left field and bank and further into the woods.

On your return to the main road walk back towards the parking area described above and you will round a right then left bend in quick succession. Turn your back on the building and the rough bank in front of you has a colony of up to 8 Ophrys reinholdii and Cephalanthera longifolia. Other species may include
Anacamptis pyramidalis

Anacamptis pyramidalis albiflora

Limodorum abortivum

Ophrys minutula

Orchis morio ssp. picta

Orchis provencialis
Orchis quadripunctata
Orchis tridentata
21. West track 1.5km south of sanatorium

Check the roadside verges after 1km from the junction of the track and main road for Himantoglossum comperianum. The track is easy to find as it turns off the road by the sheep sheds


22. Roadside banks south of sanatorium

Himantoglossum comperianum can be found in good numbers here especially just before the first hairpin bend (where the dilapidated bungalow sites on your left) and the open field on your left up hill some 300m past the natural spring fountain. The area immediately to the left of the fountain and just in off the road is usually the most reliable.

Platanthera holmboei can be found in the ferns growing on the left hand bank as you go uphill in early May along with Cephalanthera damasonium. Or take the sharp concreted track on your left shortly after the small sheep sheds. The bank with the ferns on your right has them too…

As many as 4 spikes of Epipactis microphylla grow beside a stone wall by the road, just before the concreted track that rises steeply on the left. But you'll only see them in very late May or early June.


23. West of Agh. Fokas headland

Carry on up the hill rather than turning left down hill past the military base to the headland. The fields especially on the left around 200-300m further can be completely full of orchids. So many that you couldn't walk in the field!



Orchis sancta
Orchis sancta var. albiflora
24. Main road East of Akrasi

A number of hairpin bends have small fields adjacent to them. Check these out…



Orchis italica

Orchis morio

Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis tridentata
25-26. Melinda - main road junction

It’s not easy to find places to stop here, but the length of this road from sea level upwards is good!



Ophrys sicula

Ophrys umbilicata

Orchis italica

Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis tridentata
27-30. Megalochori - south of Spides

As you descend towards Megalochori you eventually come out into more open countryside, with spectacular views south. There is an obvious long low stone wall on the right. Look on the high bank opposite in late May or early June for Himantoglossum montis tauri & Himantoglossum affine. There is also Himantoglossum comperianum here too from earlier in May.

Shortly after leaving the stone wall behind and just as you turn left and see the small church in front and down to your right look on the left side of the track about 1-2m from the edge on a small grassy mound you may find Himantoglossum caprinum (which is a much more robust orchid) with Himantoglossum montis tauri and Himantoglossum comperianum.

As you continue to descend towards Megalochori you should find on the last few bends



Cephalanthera longifolia
Orchis collina
Ophrys mammosa

You’ll pass through the left side of Megalochori and almost immediately enter the tiny village of Spides. On exiting the village and for 1km onwards, the banks here are a real picture!!!



Anacamptis pyramidalis

Himantoglossum comperianum

Ophrys attica

Ophrys bucephala

Ophrys mammosa

Ophrys minutula

Ophrys reinholdii
Orchis italica

Orchis morio ssp. picta

Orchis provencialis
Orchis tridentata
31. Karyonas - Mesouna track

Ophrys mammosa

Ophrys reinholdii

Orchis anatolica

Orchis sezikiana

Orchis tridentata
32-33 Main road – Karyonas

Limodorum abortivum

Dactylorhiza romana

Orchis intacta

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys mammosa

Ophrys reinholdii

Orchis italica
Orchis morio ssp. picta

Orchis provencialis
Orchis tridentata

Serapias parviflora
34. Main road – Koumari

Ophrys attaviria

Ophrys cinereophila

Ophrys labiosa

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys iricolor

Ophrys parosica

Ophrys phryganae

Ophrys sicula

Orchis italica
Orchis morio ssp. picta

Orchis tridentata

Serapias parviflora
35. Old main road hairpin and track

A recent piece of road straightening has left the old hairpin bends intact as you leave Mytilene



Anacamptis pyramidalis

Ophrys labiosa

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys homeri
Ophrys sicula

Orchis italica
Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis sancta

Orchis tridentata

Serapias parviflora

Serapias vomeracea
36. Coastal road fields

There are a couple of pull in places along this road to Loutra



Anacamptis pyramidalis

Ophrys cinereophila
Ophrys ferrum-equinum

Ophrys iricolor

Ophrys labiosa

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys phryganae

Ophrys sicula

Orchis italica
Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis sancta

Orchis tridentata

Serapias parviflora

Serapias vomeracea
37. Loutra headland

Continue past the Loutra turning heading for Skala Loutron and park in the lay-by just past the ferry and hotel. The track follows the coast around the Loutra headland.



Anacamptis pyramidalis

Ophrys attaviria

Ophrys cinereophila
Ophrys ferrum-equinum

Ophrys iricolor

Ophrys labiosa

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys mammosa

Ophrys minutula

Ophrys orphanidea

Ophrys pelinaea

Ophrys phryganae

Ophrys sicula

Orchis anthropophora

Orchis italica
Orchis morio ssp. picta
Orchis sancta

Orchis tridentata

Serapias parviflora

Serapias vomeracea
38. Loutra - Taxiarches track

This road is probably the best place on the island for Himantoglossum robertianum


39. Agh. Ermogenis headland

Dactylorhiza romana

Dactylorhiza romana var. albiflora

Orchis intacta

Ophrys pelinaea

Serapias cordigera
40-41. Track to and around Panaghia Amali

For Epipactis turcica, helleborine & densifolia look behind the monastery and the woodland edges in this area. But you will only see them in very late May or early June.



Cephalanthera epipactoides

Cephalanthera rubra (June/July only)



Dactylorhiza romana

Dactylorhiza romana var. albiflora

Limodorum abortivum

Limodorum abortivum var. albiflora



Limodorum abortivum var. rubrum





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