Two-leaved Gennaria - Gennaria diphylla
by Tony Hall
The two leaves that give this species its name (diphylla) are arranged alternately, clasping the thin green stem. The lower of the two leaves is heart-shaped and larger than the similarly shaped upper leaf. Up to 45 sessile greenish-yellow flowers are borne on a one-sided stem, with the tips of the petals curved backwards and a lower 3-lobed lip.
It is not the easiest orchid to spot. They grow to around 30cm tall, with the flowers as well as the leaves a greenish-yellow and fairly inconspicuous. But when they are found they are usually found in small open groups, and most commonly in coniferous woodland, but also found in broad-leaved woodland.
In Gibraltar they can be found growing in the shaded areas of limestone rock crevices, on the upper rock nature reserve.
There are many orchids that grow in Andalucía (more than thirty species). The two leaved gennaria is not one of the commonest, but it is one of the earliest.It is an orchid that will not be confused with any other, flowering early in the year, from February to April.
Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.