Abstract. Tyteca, D. & Caperta, A.- The status and protection of orchids in Portugal [Natural. belges 80 (Orchid. 12) (1999): 141-154]. Fifty-six species and subspecies are presently recognised as indigeneous in Portugal. About half of them are rare or very rare, or even probably extinct for two of them. The causes of rarity and the factors responsible for the regression that still affects many species are analysed. Besides the fact that a few species have only little Mediterranean or Atlantic affinities, there are causes linked with habitat disappearance, mainly in humid and coastal zones. Regulations applicable in Portugal are reviewed, but few of them are specifically concerned with orchids. Furthermore orchids are never considered among priority options towards the establishment of nature reserves and parcs. We propose a list of sites and habitats especially rich or favourable to the conservation of orchids, which should receive a better attention on behalf of Portuguese officers responsible for nature protection. Moreover, knowledge of demographic and genetic characteristics of orchid populations should absolutely be developed if we wish to guarantee the effectiveness of conservation strategies.

Key-Words: Flora of Portugal, Orchidaceae, distribution, diversity, conservation, nature protection.