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Greece in the past constituted, and still is, a familiar place for those who want to see and admire one of the richest and most spectacular floras in Europe in its natural environment. Among the plant families that are distributed in Greece, the orchid family (Orchidaceae) is one of the most interesting, having 193 species and subspecies, which are classified into 19 genera. The vast variability of the orchids with their complex and admirable biology, has made this plant family an object of systematic and continuous study for many years. The genera Dactylorhiza, Epipactis and Ophrys have a prominent position in this process. Many species of these genera – especially the most variable ones – were extensively split resulting in taxonomic chaos. However, in many cases, the use of molecular markers and other techniques led to the solution of several taxonomic problems, shedding light on the already confusing classification of the European orchids.
The publication of the Atlas of the Greek Orchids constitutes the culmination of the author's efforts over the past 20 years, in studying and recording the orchid flora of Greece. Many field excursions have been performed, aiming to record and observe orchids at their different life cycle stages, especially during spring and summer, but above all to study their morphological variability. Moreover, the authors tried to confirm several old – although in some cases vague – records of some species rare for Greece (e.g. Pseudorchis albida, Cypripedium calceolus). The results of this common effort are presented in the present two-volume atlas.
Specifically, the description texts are restricted to the presentation of the information and features which are necessary for the recognition of a taxon from those closely related, without providing to the readership redundant information that can not be used in its delimitation and classification. Photographically, the authors emphasised the presentation of a large part of the orchids' variability, in a way that this variability will be understandable and potential queries of the readership that will arise during its field excursions will be solved. Furthermore, the photographs presented have been taken from many parts of the distributional range of each orchid and as a result show a large part of their variability. The chorological data, presented in the form of a distribution map for each taxon (subspecies, species, genera and the whole family), also constitute a significant part of the Atlas of the Greek Orchids. The distribution maps, although on a small scale, provide a view of each orchid's rarity status in Greece, corresponding to their significance and importance.
Volume 1 covers the genera Epipactis, Cephalanthera, Limodorum, Neottia, Epipogium, Corallorhiza, Goodyera, Spiranthes, Platanthera, Gymnadenia, Pseudorchis, Coeloglossum, Dactylorhiza, Serapias, Anacamptis, Neotinea, Orchis, and Himantoglossum Volume 2 is entirely dedicated to the speciose genus Ophrys.