is the director of the Higher Plant Genome and Evolution Lab,
Biology Department, University Claude Bernard, Lyon (France) In
charge of the Scientific Commission of the French Orchid Society
In your lecture, you said that the number of described species has increased
for several decades. You speak about the orchids in general or the French
species (or European)?
DP: The number of species increases years regularly
since, like Philipp Cribb has also made noticed. If I take the first
edition of 1998 of the Orchids of France Belgium and Luxembourg, work
carried out by the Société Française d'Orchidophilie,
there was in France 147 tax divided into 129 species and 30 kinds. The
second edition which will appear in the next months presents 171 tax
divided into 160 species and 27 genera. That does not mean that the
number of biological species increased so much for this period. This
is a question of increase of observations and descriptions of tax which
are so strongly looked alike each other that even the specialists have
difficulties in differentiating and which all are described with the
status of species whereas in many cases, it would be more correct to
describe them as variety or subspecies. This distorts the inventories
of bio diversity and masks the threats of disappearance which weigh
on certain species . My comments concern essentially the French and
European orchids, the same tendency nevertheless less remarked is observed
on a world level. The number of the genera which decreases results from
the taxonomic changes caused by molecular phylogenies which result in
joining together genera. They bring to remove two additional genera.
ON: Which are the main French genus?
DP: The main French genus are: Anacamptis,
Dactylorhiza, Epipactis, Neotinea, Ophrys
and Orchis that include many species which quite spread and often
observed. The other genera have a more local distribution or are less
ON: Which are the most spread species?
DP: The most spread species covering the essential
of the country are: Anacamptis pyramidalis, Anacamptis morio (=Orchis
morio), Cephalanthera damasonium, Cephalanthera longofolia, Coeloglossum
viride (broad surface of distribution, but rather rare), Dactylorhiza
incarnata, Dactylorhiza maculata, Epipactis helleborine, Epipactis palustris
(locally abundant, but many habitats disappear because of draining from
the marshes), Himantoglossum hircinum, Listera ovata, Neotinea ustulata
(=Orchis ustulata), Neottia nidus-avis (broad distribution
but not very abundant habitats), Ophrys apifera, Ophrys aranifera
(=O. sphegodes), Ophrys araneola, Ophrys insectifera,
Orchis anthropophora (=Aceras anthropophorum), Orchis
mascula, Orchis militaris, Orchis purpurea, Orchis simia, Platanthera
bifolia (broad distribution but not very dense habitats), Platanthera
chlorantha (broad distribution but not very dense stations).
ON: Which are the main habitats (Average temperature during the winter
and during the summer)?
DP: We have varied ecological conditions in France,
since we find orchids of the sea level in the Mediterranean area until
in the mountains regions in the Alps with more than 2000 m of altitude.
The average temperatures vary roughly in the Mediterranean zones of
27 °C in hot period with 15°C in cold period, in area of plain
more in north, the temperature averages vary 22°C in summer with
10°C in winter, in mountain, they are of 15°C in summer and
-5°C in winter. These values are only indicative, the variations
day labourers are sometimes important.
ON: All species remain subterranean during the winter?
DP: The majority of the orchids spend the winter
without visible air parts, however, the species of the genera Goodyera
and Ophrys which are largely widespread formed of the leaves
in the autumn which remain through the winter. In other species, the
leaves are formed in spring.
ON: Is there a aware of conservation among French in general? People
feel concerned by this problem? Is there a governmental program for
DP: The protection of the plants was founded officially
in France by a ministerial decree in 1995. Many vegetable species, from
which some species of orchids are protected: any taking away is prohibited.
Authorizations can be granted for scientific work. This protection is
applicable on all the own territory. Protections of comparable nature
were granted at the regional level. Between 1986 and 2005, protections
assured in each French area were published, including the overseas departments
located in zones tropical, in the form of ministerial decrees. Nearly
100 temperate species are thus protected either at the national level
or on a regional or sometimes departmental level. The taking away also
prohibited in the natural reserves, whatever the statute of protection
of the species. The regulation is a thing, but the behavior of people
in is another. The peasants who have species protected on their grounds
have the right to turn over the ground and to change objective of culture.
Thus even of the habitats of the famous "lady's slippers",
our emblematic French orchis can be destroyed. We can also note the
disappearance of plants even in the natural reserves. Some indelicate
orchidists always take whole plants in nature in spite of prohibitions.
Gatherings take place also. A lawsuit was engaged and gained against
people who took orchids. The regulation opens the possibility of action
of justice against the people in fault.
ON: Which is the role played by your society in all this?
DP: The Société Française
d'Orchidophilie played a part in the definition of the lists of species
protected at the national level, sometimes also at the regional level.
The protection of the orchids forms part of the activities of the company
described in its statutes. All shows in which the SFO takes part, panels
are generally presented on the biology of the orchids and also on their
protection, in a way of making public concerned about this important
aspect. In the works published by the society, like that on Orchids
of France, Belgium and Luxembourg, a chapter is devoted to protection
with the indications of the regulations in progress. The tables of all
the species protected in France are provided in the work. The works
with more regional vocation mention the orchids protected on the territory
concerned. Protection is a difficult objective and the economic interests
are often contrary with protection. Sometimes, in spite of the information
provided by the society unfortunately we do not manage to avoid their
destruction. It is a problem of making people concerned and of education,
it is enough to few disrespectful people break the rules and the effort
done by many others is destroyed. Making of a large audience concerned
seems to us to be one of the best ways.
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