(pronounced: ser-AP-ee-ass)


Orchideae subtribe Orchidinae

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Terrestrials arising from tubers. Stems erect, leafy toward the base. Leaves linear-lanceolate, grass-like, acuminate. Inflorescences erect pedunculate spicate racemes, the floral bract conspicuous, colored. Flowers with a tubular base, brown to purple. Sepals and petals free. Lip three-lobed, the lateral lobes erect-incurved, the disc usually villose, the midlobe large and deflexed, the callus basal, usually of two short parallel keels. Column club-shaped with an elongate awl-like rostellum; pollinia 2, granular, on separate caudicles and a small common viscidium.


From the Egyptian Serapias, an Egyptian god, referring indirectly to the god in whose temple pilgrims engaged in licentious living. The name was applied initially by the Greeks to an orchid (Orchis morio) with reputed aphrodisiac powers and later by Linnaeus to this genus.


A genus of 13 species in Europe and the Mediterranean.

Care and Culture Card

See basic growing conditions and care information below.


Condamin, M. 1994. Note préliminaire sur les Serapias de la flore française continental et corse. L’Orchidoph. 114:261-264.

Dafni, A. and N. B. M. Branjes 1981. Pollination of Serapias vomeracea Briq. (Orchidaceae) by imitation of holes for sleeping solitary male bees (Hymenoptera). Acta Bot. Neerl. 30:69-73.

Tyteca, D. 1987. Orchidees du Portugal, 12. Remarques sur les especes du genre Serapias. Bull. Soc. Roy. Bot. Belg. 120(1):53-58.