48. Ophrys blitopertha & persephonae: ‘From the Underworld’.

Habitat: Avlonas

The differences between brown & black, Avlona © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #318

Ophrys blitopertha (L) &  persephonae (R) or Ophrys persephonae (L) & urteae (R)?
The differences between brown & black, Avlonas © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #318

Ophrys blitopertha H.F. PAULUS & C. GACK 1998;
Ophrys persephonae H.F. PAULUS 2001;
Ophrys urteae H.F. PAULUS 2009.

Ophrys persephonae and/or blitopertha? Avlona, © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #320 & #333

Ophrys blitopertha and/or persephonae? Avlonas, © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #320 & #333

HUNTING: For the last 4 years I’ve been hunting in the area behind Avlonas and next to a steep path going to nowhere there are olive groves strewn with orchids. It is a very cosy gathering there; members of the Ophrys fusca family, the complete Ophrys umbilicata family, members of the oestrifera family, Ophrys homeri, Orchis morio with its small child picta, Neotinea maculata, hundreds of Serapias, and a complete set of different looking Ophrys blitopertha. It’s a lot of heavy work there, on the knees, spending hours making photographs and measuring the bloody lips and hoping that a pollinator will be so kind to mate with one of them, but in vain, no pollinators around. I always thought Ophrys blitopertha is easy: reddish or yellowish brown lip, yellow or orange lip edges, and a straight, flat, wedge-shaped prolapsed lip. There are tens of variants of course, and sometimes difficult to determine because of the hybrids with other members of the fusca family and the confusion with its sister species Ophrys persephonae.

And after hours of staring at my computer screen and comparing and comparing I came to the conclusion that there is a black sheep in wolf’s clothes in between those blitopertha. This intriguing other species, with an almost black lip and a vivid yellow edge around the lip, almost the same yellow-green colour as the sepals and petals, not plump but elegant, some dark blue in the speculum and often with two black lines in the stigmatic cavity which look like mascara. What could it be? Who is the only other one in this group – made by PAULUS in 2001? Ophrys persephonae of course, the queen of the underworld! But, but…

Ophrys blitopertha, Avlona L. © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #133

Ophrys blitopertha, Avlonas L. © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #133

Look at the photographs I made on the 1st of April this year (and no, it’s not a joke) the very colourful almost circular lip of the left Ophrys compared to the slim, almost black lip of the Ophrys on the right; the same taxa? Both Ophrys blitopertha?

RESEARCH: DELFORGE (2005) Ophrys blitopertha: Small, spindly plant, 1-4 (-7) medium-sized flowers, sepals whitish-green, near spreading; petals darker green, sometimes olive-green, oblong, curved forwards; lip near horizontal, very straight appearance, short, oboval (oval that is broadest at the top) to wedge-shaped, almost flat, sometimes reflexed (curved upwards) longitudinally, weakly convex transversally in centre, 8-12 (-14)mm, 3-lobed, sinuses hardly incised, only slightly open, base sometimes faded, folded into a shallow throat, yellowish-white. Lip hairs rather dense, slightly irregular, blackish-brown with crimson to purplish reflections, becoming paler yellowish-brown at anthesis*. Lip bordered by a bright yellow (sometimes reddish) hairless margin, often broad, very obvious, very regular; lateral lobes short, shortly rhomboidal. Speculum elongated, not reaching sinuses, dark, not very contrasting, not very shiny. Late March –early May, rather late. (shortened JvL)

That description also almost fits my ‘black’ persephonae, but it is not spindly, much taller, it has more flowers and the lip is definitely more slender.

Ophrys persephonae? Avlona, © Jan van Lent 8-04-2015 #175

The Queen of the underworld: persephonae? Avlonas, © Jan van Lent 8-04-2015 #175

DELFORGE (2005) Ophrys persephonae: ’As O. blitopertha but robust, 30-40cm tall; 4-5 (-9) flowers, more brightly coloured; lip (near) horizontal, appearing a little less straight, slightly more transversally convex in centre, 9-13mm x 8-10.5mm; lip hairs denser, much darker, speculum larger, contrasting, shiny, entirely pale blue or blackish blue, purplish, and with 2 pale blue crescents at tip, forming a large, contrasting W; stigmatic cavity larger.’
KREUTZ (Rhodes & Karpathos 2002): ‘Ophrys persephonae is distinctly taller, has more flowers and usually grows in light woods. Ophrys blitopertha is in contrast a smaller, more delicate plant with few flowers, which mostly grows in very sunny fields. The colour of the speculum on Ophrys blitopertha also hardly stands out from the very dark labellum and rarely reaches up to the stigma.’
ANTONOPOULOS (2009): ‘It (O.persephonae) differs from the latter (O.blitopertha) in that it prefers different habitats (semi-shaded locations to thin coniferous forest), the colours of its speculum are stronger, it has a taller stem and exhibits a slightly stronger curve of the lip on the long axis. It also flowers a little earlier than Ophrys blitopertha.)
PETROU et al (2011): ‘Ophrys blitopertha may be confused with O. persephonae, which, however, is a robust plant, and its lip has an obvious, shiny speculum without an orange base, and an orange borderOphrys persephonae may be confused with O. blitopertha, which, however, is a slender plant, with light-coloured lip base, a dull speculum and a yellow border.’
ALIBERTIS (2015): ‘It (O. persephonae) is a taller plant than O. blitopertha (up to 35 cm) and with more flowers (3-6). Green perianth. Small/medium-sized lip, barely more longish, +- horizontal, less stretched, without a base-relief and with a small transverse curve at the mid-point. Pilosity of lip brown-violet, denser and darker. Speculum wider, maybe shinier, pale gray-blue or blue black-violet, with two crescents at the top that form a W blue or bluish, +- discernible. Wide edges, totally leveled throughout all the contour of the lip, orange to brown-orange, but also green-yellow that a little before the stigmatic cavity seem as though they are fins. Pollinator: It remains unknown.’

In the literature you will only find Ophrys blitopertha and persephonae, but if you go on the Internet you will find that there is a new phenomenon – to remain in sub-scientific style – in the group, since 2009, answering to the name Ophrys urteae. Urteae? Not Ureae? Was it not this yellow-green colour which inspired PAULUS (2009) to name this species urteae? Because it was not the beetle Urtea graeca, a species of beetle in the family Lymexylidae, which inspired him for this new name; he wrote that the black bug Blitopertha nigripennis should be the perpetrator. Well, at least the black colour you can find back on the lip of my ‘Avlonas’ species.

Ophrys persephonae or urteae? Avlona, © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #316, #324, #328 LipL12.5mm

Ophrys persephonae or urteae? Avlonas, © Jan van Lent 1-04-2016 #316, #324, #328 LipL12.5mm

PAULUS (2009): ‘Close to Manavgat – Serik in Anatolia two populations of an Ophrys very close to O.blitopertha but differing by smaller flowers and another pollinator. O. urteae is a plant 6 – 15 cm tall bearing 1 – 3 (- 6) flowers. The very flat and dark lip is 9 – 12 mm long (m = 10.5 mm) which is significantly smaller than the lip of O. blitopertha, the length of being 12 – 15 mm (m = 12.9 mm).Both species are pollinated by Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae and Rutelinae; O. blitopertha by Blitopertha lineolata  and O.urteae by Blito-pertha nigripennisB. lineolata is distributed in south-east Europe, in Aegean Anatolia and on the eastern shores of the Black Sea. On the other hand, B. nigripennis inhabits Cyprus, southern Anatolia east of Antalya and some regions of the Middle-East. The two areas are close together in Antalya but don’t overlap as far as is known for the time being. The Antalya meridian seems to mark the limit between the two species, with O. blitopertha in the west and O. urteae in the east.’

Ophrys blitopertha-group Avlona, 1-04-2016 #285; 1-04-2015 #340; 1-04-2016 #324.

Ophrys blitopertha group, Avlonas, 1-04-2016 #285; 1-04-2015 #340; 1-04-2016 #324.

BOTTOM-LINE: From all the Ophrys descriptions in the books, the description of Ophrys persephonae is the most vague and the photographs of the researchers – who ‘did’ the queen of the underworld – are all different.
ALIBERTIS (2015): ‘The plethora of new names unfortunately creates all these problems and as a result there are many who name plants that apparently are not those that their photographs show. We noticed that on the internet as well as in recently published books-guides.’
Is that maybe also the reason that HENNECKE & MUNZINGER (2014) intuitively & completely forgot Ophrys blitopertha, persephonae & urteae in their ‘Neue systematische Gliederung der Gattung Ophrys: subgenus Ophrys’?

Also the pollinators are very different according to Paulus & the books, Ophrys blitopertha is said to be mated by the males of a small cockchafer, Blitopertha lineolata and the pollinator of persephonae is not known. But to remain in mythological style: probably the bee Andrena hadesae*. Even Paulus didn’t find a pollinator for his queen: maybe it died immediately after the – pseudo – copulation, that happens sometimes in nature…

There are not so many orchid researchers who described Ophrys persephonae, let alone Ophrys urteae, but everybody described Ophrys blitopertha and showed some photographs. And there the confusion starts – with the photographs. Questions: Is the light or dark brown plant Ophrys blitopertha? And is the fat, or the elegant black plant Ophrys persephonae? Come on, why should you give a fat brown Ophrys with a wedge-shaped lip the name of the queen of the underworld who – in every illustration – is portrayed as a beautiful lady? And why give the almost black and most elegant ‘fusca’ looking Ophrys of the group the name of this ugly fat lineolata bug? Or is also on Lesvos – once upon a time part of Anatolia – the bug Blitopertha nigripennis around, armed with his black ‘feathers’ – to paint Ophrys blitopertha black to create a new species: Ophrys urteae**?

Jan van Lent, Lesvos 15-04/21-05-2016

Ophrys blitopertha, persephonae or urteae? Avlonas, © Jan van Lent 8-04-2015 #205

Ophrys blitopertha, persephonae or urteae? Avlonas, © Jan van Lent 8-04-2015 #205

‘Paint it Black’: Rolling Stones 1966

‘Back to Black’: Amy Winehouse 2006 (1983-2011)

‘From The Underworld*’: The Herd 1967


*The lyrics of the song ‘From The Underworld’ are based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice in their flight from Hades. In Greek mythology, Eurydice was a woman or nymph, and was the wife of Orpheus. While fleeing from Aristaeus, she was bitten by a serpent and died. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept and gave him advice. Orpheus travelled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Hades – the king and Persephone – the queen of the underworld, and even made the Furies weep. Orpheus was allowed to take Eurydice with him back to the world of life and light. Hades set one condition, however: upon leaving the land of death, both Orpheus and Eurydice were forbidden to look back. The couple climbed up toward the opening into the land of the living, and Orpheus, seeing the Sun again, turned back to share his delight with Eurydice. In that moment, she disappeared for ever. Later on Orpheus was killed by the wild woman of Thrace; his head was thrown in the river and floated out to sea to the island of Lesvos. The muses of Lesvos found his head – still singing, with his lyre – on the beach near Andissa and buried it on the foot of Mount Olymbos (actually a cave on Mt. Fouga, between Andissa and Lapsarna). To this day, the nightingales sing more sweetly there than anywhere else. (see Blog 35: Orchis purpurea on Mt. Fouga: www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=2819)

* *Ophrys urteae = accepted name by the Plant List:

47. Ophrys cesmeensis: ‘Take time to know her’.

Habitat: Loutropoli Thermi.

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 1-03-2016 #140

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 1-03-2016 #140

Ophrys fusca subsp. cesmeensis KREUTZ 2003.
Ophrys bilunulata subsp. cesmeensis PAULUS & HIRTH 2014?

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli-Thermi, © Jan van Lent 1-03-2016 #009

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli-Thermi, © Jan van Lent 1-03-2016 #009

REMARKSBURKHARD BIEL, a German biologist and orchidologist who researched Lesvos for almost ten years and who wrote several articles about the orchids (and other plants) here, made a list of all known orchid habitats dating back some 30 years from today (1984). In his most impressive work, which I call ‘The Big Biel’ (1998), he wrote about his earliest observations on Lesvos during an orchid season (March-June) on 1-03-1997: ‘1.6km SW of Loutropoli-Thermis, olive grove, Cistus phrygana, 130m height; Oph. fla-fus, iri, sit, Or.pap. B.rob.’ Translated to the present ‘official’ orchid nomenclature this means: Ophrys fusca subsp. flavipes, Ophrys iricolor, Ophrys omegaifera subsp. sitiaca, Orchis papilionacea and Barlia robertiana, nowadays Himantoglossum robertia-numExcept for Ophrys fusca ssp. flavipes which is now divided into many more taxa, the other ones are still known under those names but maybe very young orchidologist don’t recognize Orchis papilionacea because you have to call them Anacamptis papilionacea these days and for Lesvos: Anacamptis papilionacea ssp. messenica. Apparently the heroic version of the Butterfly orchid (Orchis papilionacea subsp. heroica) was not so heroic after all… it died in the latest ‘official’ literature (o.a. KRETZSCHMAR ET AL 2007).

Andrena flavipes males (Hym. Andrenidae) pseudocopulating on the flower labellum of Ophrys bilunulata. © Nicolas Vereecken

Andrena flavipes males (Hym. Andrenidae) pseudocopulating on the flower labellum of Ophrys bilunulata. © Nicolas J. Vereecken.

So let’s talk about the only species (Ophrys fusca subsp. flavipes) from the BIEL list which is not around us anymore – not because it vanished but because it was renamed as Ophrys bilunulata Risso by DELFORGE (2005). The name flavipes, which you find back in a lot of the older European orchid literature as an early flowering Ophrys fusca family member pollinated by the male bee Andrena flavipes, the Yellow-legged Mining Bee, was now definitively vanished*.
Is it because of those yellow legs of this bee that it prefers yellow-edged fusca-members to ‘mate’ with? And why do bees copulate and pseudocopulate  with Ophrys? BATEMAN (2012) wrote that they don’t gain anything from it; they just practice in case they meet a female bee so they know how to ‘behave’. And there are a lot of early fusca-members with brown lips and yellow edges…

Ophrys cesmeensis?, Plakés, © Jan van Lent, 9-03-2016 #157

Ophrys cesmeensis? Plakés, © Jan van Lent, 9-03-2016 #157

HUNTING: On my annual February/March orchid hunts to the supposed BIEL habitat ‘1.6km SW of Loutropoli-Thermis, olive grove, Cistus phrygana, 130m height’ I never found Himantoglossum robertianum – but tens of Ophrys fusca subspecies with a yellow lip edge. It was finally in 2014 that I realised that I was probably looking at Ophrys cesmeensis when I found a sturdy Ophrys fusca with a yellow edged, very big lip (16-17mm) in the most upper olive grove on this habitat. But it was the 21st of February and the researchers were dating the flowering time of this Ophrys from the end of March until the end of April. But those sturdy Ophrys fusca couldn’t be Ophrys calocaerina, the only Ophrys I know with such a big lip, because February is not Kalokairi – Greek for summer – but Ximónas, winter. And to name it Ophrys xiemaerina is for me just one step to far… I leave that for some other orchid researchers. So I went back the last two years in February/March to see if Ophrys cesmeensis were still there and that I hadn’t made it all up behind my computer.

In early March this year Ophrys cesmeensis was not as big as the last years, the lip was ‘only’ 12,5mm in length, but if you press it down it grows already to 14,5mm. Full-grown, like it was last week (the 23rd of March) – the lip was almost 17mm. It was surrounded by other, but much smaller fusca family members; Ophrys sitiaca and Ophrys sancti-isidorii.

Ophrys cesmeensis Febr- March 2015-2016, Loutropoli-Thermi, © Jan van Lent.

Ophrys cesmeensis Febr- March 2015-2016, Loutropoli-Thermi, © Jan van Lent.

RESEARCHOphrys cesmeensis was and is – for Greece – a controversial orchid; until last year it was only described as endemic – here we go again –  to the Çeşme peninsula, near Smyrna/Izmir by KREUTZ in his ‘field guide to the Orchids of Turkey’ from 2003 and by DELFORGE in 2005. But did both gentlemen check for instance Chios, Lesvos or Samos – all three a few kilometres down the coast from Turkey (known worldwide these days, but for other reasons) for this Ophrys? Well yes, they did – two years later DELFORGE & SALIARIS (CHIOS 2007) stated that on Chios the Ophrys attaviria group was represented – among others (JvL) – by O. attaviria (var. attaviria and var. cesmeensis). And apparently also KREUTZ did, because TAYLOR (2015) – who found a more or less similar Oph. attaviria ssp. cesmeensis on the 26th of March 2008 on Chios – wrote: ‘Three English visitors, Franklin, Giles and Lewis, discovered a strong colony of this taxon at Emporios on 3 April 2006. Karel Kreutz, author of the taxon, confirmed the identification from submitted photographs and later during a visit to Chios in 2008 when he examined the plants.’
My last two books on Greek orchids – ANTONOPOULOS (2009) and also PETROU (2011) – didn’t mention Ophrys cesmeensis because the only official reference at that time was from this region of Çeşme in Turkey and both books covered ‘only’ Greece.

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 21-02-2014 #181

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 21-02-2014 #181

But now we have ‘The Self-Sown orchids of Greece’ by ANTONIS ALIBERTIS (2015). His description of Ophrys cesmeensis: ‘Certain characteristics make it differ from O. fusca ssp. attaviria. It is a sturdy plant, up to 20 cm in height, with up to 6 flowers. Sepals & petals almost of the same colour and a medium-sized to big lip at times almost flat and at times totally curved longitudinally and across, in fact at times with a slight basal bent. (It has) a whitish, yellowish or ochre base of lip, and mid-point with significant protuberances (swellings). Speculum (is) almost smooth, blue to blue-blackish, shiny, with two discernible crescents at its edge, divided by a swallow channel. (It has a) brown-violet pilosity of lip, at times framed by a discernible concentric zone around the speculum. Noticeable edges of lip, wide, yellow or yellowish.’

Apparently he didn’t agree with H. BAUMANN’s team (2006) who consider it a synonym of O. fusca ssp. attaviria: ‘Slender lip, dark. Speculum blue-grey, reaching over the middle of the lip, late flowering; east-Mediterranean: subsp. attaviria. Synonym: O. attaviria subsp. cesmeensis, O.cesmeensis, West-Turkey.’

ALIBERTIS described Ophrys fusca ssp. cesmeensis from Chios and ‘probably’ Lesvos and that accounts to his credit, (now) I really like the book. Also his NOTES to almost every species are nicely de-mystifying: ‘As P. SALIARIS claims – in Chios, there are two forms of Ophrys fusca ssp. cesmeensis – K. Kreutz has indicated them to him – the one with dark flowers and the other definitely with paler.’ Ah! O! That explains my difficulties of getting to know her.

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 3-03-2015 #153.

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 3-03-2015 #153.

BOTTOM-LINE: Alibertis is known, famous or notorious (choose yourself) for many new described orchids in Greece, and also this book doesn’t let you down on that subject: already in his Ophrys fusca group there are 6 new named Ophrys I had never heard of… (See blog 46 ‘Such a Shame’: www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=3978). In his book I found twenty-one fusca’s with a yellow edged lip, only Ophrys attaviria, eptapigiensis, pelinaea & theophrasti (thus the later flowering fusca-membera) are not blessed – on Lesvos – with a yellow edge but with an orange/red/ brown edge.

But there are still a lot of other Ophrys fusca s.l. with brown lips and yellow lip borders flowering during this early March. Descriptions don’t help out much here because they are for most fusca-members almost the same. But good photographs really do help so finally I could compare ALIBERTIS cesmeensis photographs with the ones I took in the last years from this big Ophrys and yes, they are alike. And yes, it took me quite a lot of time to know this big and early flowering Ophrys!

Jan van lent, Eftalou, Lesvos, 22-03-2016

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 23-03-2016 #077

Ophrys cesmeensis, Loutropoli Thermi, © Jan van Lent, 23-03-2016 #077

‘Take time to know her’ (1968), Percy Sledge 2006.

*In 2014 PAULUS & HIRTH (Ophrys Kefalonia, 2014) renamed all Ophrys pollinated by Andrena flavipes  into a new Ophrys bilunulata group. For instance: Ophrys fusca subp. sancti-isidorii KREUTZ 2003 was renamed Ophrys bilunulata subsp. sancti-isidorii PAULUS & HIRTH 2014. Therefore I presume that I should call Ophrys cesmeensis these days Ophrys bilunulata subsp. cesmeensis PAULUS & HIRTH 2014. So now we have, in the Pseudophrys section, next to the iricolor, fusca,attaviria, blitopertha,omegaifera and lutea group; the bilunulata groups. Well, that’s maybe a better solution than renaming all fusca taxa with a yellow lip border – pollinated by Andrena flavipes - as Ophrys subfusca (Rchb. f.) HAUSSKNECHT 1899

46: Such a Shame! Ophrys sancti-isidorii x sitiaca.

Habitats: Eftalou, Aspros Glaros.

1-02-2016 #049, refugee helpers boating in front of the Eftalou and Turkish coast to find some refugees – in vain.

Rescuers searching for refugees off the Eftalou and Turkish coast – in vain.
© Jan van Lent, 1-02-2016 #049.

Himantoglossum robertianum (Loiseleur) P. DELFORGE 2005;
Ophrys (fusca ssp.) sancti-isidorii x sitiaca;
Ophrys (lutea ssp.) sicula (TINEO) SOLDANO 1993.

REMARKSIt was and is hard to concentrate on something as frivolous as orchids with so much tragedy and drama in front of us: last year we saw thousands of boat refugees landing on the beaches in front of our house and walking on their endless way to Mytilini and Europe: Such a Shame! But since the Dutch Prime Minister ordered all refugees to stay home and another politician dictated that they should be put back on a ferry back to Turkey; after Europe gave billions to Erdogan who had already made billions through the refugee-smugglers and after NATO-warships are controlling ‘our’ waters it is all very quiet on the Eftalou front: there are almost no refugees on the ‘boulevard’ and in the sea between Molivos and Skala Sikaminea…Even the orchids in Eftalou are very quiet and still in their rosettes. Himantoglossum robertianum – which was the first flowering orchid in Eftalou, last year on the 1st of February – is still hiding away between its leaves.

Himantoglossum robertianum Eftalou, 5-02-14 #011//1-02-15 #003//1-02-16 #004.

Himantoglossum robertianum Eftalou, 5-02-14 #011//1-02-15 #003//1-02-16 #004.

HUNTING: It was cold & wet at the beginning of January so I expected the orchids on Lesvos to be late this year. But to be sure I went to the Aspros Glaros, the ‘white gulls’ in the hills between Kalloni and Lambou Mili. And there was one of the Ophrys – which I followed for the last three years, distinguishable by its reddish ‘orbit’ around the stigmatic cavity – already flowering: Ophrys sancti-isidorii x sitiaca, a hybrid between Ophrys sancti-isidorii and Ophrys sitiaca. Both parent species will arrive on this habitat a week or so later.

Ophrys sancti-isidorii, Aspros Glaros, 9-02-2016 #009 © Jan van Lent

Ophrys sancti-isidorii x sitiaca, Aspros Glaros © Jan van Lent 9-02-2016 #009

Ophrys sancti-isidorii and Ophrys sitiaca are – with their hybrids – on the whole island the first flowering species of this inconceivably difficult to distinguish fusca group. (See also blog’s no: 29: DNA & Golden Orchid Awards, http://www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=2372 & 41: ‘Losing my Religion? http://www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=3590) Sometimes I wish that the first flowering orchid would be a simple Dactylorhiza romana – because we have only D. romana on Lesvos – or for that matter an almost as difficult to determine Orchis morio (sub)species. But no, it is always Ophrys sancti-isidorii, Ophrys sitiaca* or a hybrid between those two. In an attempt to overcome the difficulty of – for instance the fusca group – ANTONIS ALIBERTIS (2015) described some new fusca species in his ‘The self-sown orchids of Greece, A reference book’ which he published last year. One of those ‘new’ species he described: Ophrys fusca ssp. hymettia (nom.prov.) is a look-a-like of Ophrys sancti-isidorii x sitiaca.
I admire him. I admire everybody who dares to publish a book with more than 600 pages and thousands of very beautiful photographs, let alone one on a subject as difficult as the orchids of the whole of Greece. And what an interesting book it is, I spent almost a half year studying it. And what I admire most is that he dares to write that after more than 30 years study on the Greek orchids he doesn’t know fur sure which name to put exactly on which fusca species, or for that matter, an oestrifera species. Bravo! There are enough orchid ‘researchers’ who put a name on (and preferable also their own name behind) a late flowering fusca species after visiting a Greek island only once or twice in April…

Ophrys sancti-isidorii, Aspros Glaros, 9-02-2016 #008 © Jan van Lent

Ophrys sancti-isidorii x sitiaca, Aspros Glaros © Jan van Lent 9-02-2016 #008

RESEARCH: In order to understand the fusca group all the better ALIBERTIS described 26 different Ophrys fusca subspecies in his PSEUDOPHRYS fusca chapter from which – in his opinion – there are only two flowering for certain on Lesvos: Ophrys pelinaea & theophrasti* (?!). Okay, probably also Ophrys cesmeensis, cinereophila and phaseliana from the fusca group because Lesvos is situated in the East-Aegean region. Well ALIBERTIS, that’s only a fistful of fusca’s, what a relief for a struggling orchidologist like myself! That makes for a lot of room on my hard disks… It is of course not strange that ALIBERTIS described ten (10!) fusca (sub)species from Chios because he researched Chios intensively and, together with SALIARIS, he describes Ophrys sancti-isidorii from Chios (see blog no: 41: ‘Losing my Religion? http://www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=3590). 

List of all 26 Ophrys fusca (sub)species & 1 omegaifera (sub)species described by ALIBERTIS (2015)

List of all 26 Ophrys fusca (sub)species & 1 omegaifera* (sub)species described by ALIBERTIS (2015)*; the red names are newly described by him, the green ones are – in my opinion – also flowering on Lesvos; the 12 orange ones are according to Alibertis flowering on Chios, the 6 green ones on Lesvos.
GR + P = Greece: Petrou*; GR + A = Greece: Antonopoulos*; LES + K = Lesvos: Karatzas*; CH + MT = Chios: Mike Taylor*; EU + D = Europe: Delforge*; CR + KR = Crete: Kretzschmar*; RH + K= Rhodes: Kreutz*.
* I also included  Ophrys omegaifera ssp. sitiaca in this Ophrys fusca list.

Is this Greek Ophrys fusca list of ALIBERTIS (2015) completely different from other orchid researchers? Yes and no, it is just a longer list, even longer – thus more specific – than any other fusca list from Greece. That makes ALIBERTIS (2015) actually a bigger ‘splitter’ than ‘master splitter’ DELFORGE (2005)! Is that bad? No, during those 10 years there were a lot of ‘new’ Ophrys fusca species described in Europe and ALIBERTIS just tries to fit in those newly described fusca’s in his Greek Ophrys fusca list. And introduces ‘only‘ 3 new ones. His Ophrys fusca chapter should make it eventually easier to put a name on specific Greek fusca species. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of different Ophrys fusca species, subspecies, varieties and hybrids all over Europe, the challenge is to describe and/or photograph – and publish all those differences so clearly that we have, in the end, a clearer idea how Ophrys – not only those Ophrys fusca species – evolve through the years, pollinated by specific insects and in specific habitats. And ALIBERTIS book contributes a lot to this.

Combi 3 72dpi A.Glaros 2014-2015-2016

 23-01-2014 #195 /                         / 15-02-2014 #207/                   / 9-02-2016 #020
The same first flowering Ophrys (fusca ssp.) sancti-isidorii x sitiaca on Aspros Glaros.

BOTTOM-LINE: But is ALIBERTIS sure that there are only 5 fusca (sub)species flowering on Lesvos? No, of course he is not; he lives on Crete and therefore researched the orchids on Crete intensively – he published 3 books on the orchids of Crete – visited and researched a lot of places on the mainland and the islands and also visited Lesvos maybe once or twice. But you can’t be in every place and island of Greece at the same time in the ‘hunting’ season, not even in more than 30 years! And that applies for all orchid researchers and orchidologists and also for me here on Lesvos. We take just samples, we decided where to go and what to describe or photograph in those 5 months we have before the orchids wither and disappear again. Of the thousands of other – not found, not described, not photographed orchids – you will never hear or see anything. I think that a lot of the fusca (and iricolor, blitopertha, omegaifera and even oestrifera groups) are flowering from time to time all over all the islands and mainland of Greece. There is just not enough orchid researching manpower – and time in the orchid season – to confirm this, not in Europe, Greece nor – for example – Lesvos! So please, forget that greedy word ‘endemic’. In my opinion it stands for ‘only here, in my country, my island, my habitat, it’s mine!’ Such a shame!

Himantoglossum robertianum Eftalou, © Jan van Lent 14-02-16 #020

Himantoglossum robertianum, Eftalou © Jan van Lent, 14-02-16 #020.

PS: After 2 weeks of warm & some wet days Himantoglossum robertianum finally arrived in Eftalou on the 14th of February, five Ophrys (lutea ssp.) sicula on the 21st of February and boat refugees on the whole island shortly afterwards…

Jan van Lent, Eftalou 12/25-01-2016

Talk Talk: ‘Such a Shame’ (Montreux 1986)

* Ophrys sitiaca belongs – in my opinion – more to the fusca family than to the omegaifera family in which it is almost always placed – and unlike other Islands in the Aegean – there are no Ophrys omegaifera species flowering on Lesvos (anymore?). Ophrys sitiaca is said to be a hybrid between the fusca and omegaifera families but in ALIBERTIS opinion Ophrys sitiaca is a hybrid species between Ophrys iricolor and Ophrys omegaifera.

* Ophrys fusca (sub)species theophrasti was discovered on Lesvos by Devillers-Terschuren & Devillers in 2009 (Natural. belges 90: 289 (2009)). These Belgian researchers are famous for finding and/or renaming orchids on – not only – Lesvos after three visits: Ophrys sappho P. DEVILLERS, J. DEVILLERS-TERSCHUREN & A. FLAUSCH, Natural. belges 91, 245 (2010); Platanthera lesbiaca J. DEVILLERS-TERSCHUREN, P. DEVILLERS, L. DEDROOG, F. BAETEN & A. FLAUSCH, Natural. belges 91, 244 (2010).



45: Himantoglossum x agiasense: ‘Don’t Crush Me’.

Habitat: at the corner behind Sanatorio – up from Agiasos.

Himantoglossum x agiasense, Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-06-2015 #009, 024, 006

Himantoglossum x agiasense, Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-6-15 #009, 024, 006

X Comptoglossum agiasense I. KARATZAS 2004 =
Himantoglossum x agiasense (KARATZAS) 2004.
Himantoglossum comperianum (STEVEN 1829) DELFORGE 2005;
Himantoglossum montis-tauri KREUTZ & LÜDERS 1997;
Himantoglossum caprinum (M.BIEB.) SPRENGEL 1819;
Himantoglossum jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI 2012.

Himantoglossum x agiasense, Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-6-15 #025, one of the bottom flowers.

Himantoglossum x agiasense, Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-6-15 #025, one of the bottom flowers.

Same Himantoglossum x agiasense, Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-06-2015 #009, upper flowers

Same Himantoglossum x agiasense, Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-06-2015 #009, upper flowers.

REMARKS: This big hybrid – with its octopus-like tentacles – between Himantoglossum comperianum and Himantoglossum montis-tauri was described for the first time by I. Karatzas – accompanied by the orchid researchers A. Alibertis and P. Saliaris – in 2004, on the steep corner on the road above the village of Agiasos to the chestnut forest. They christened it with the name X Comptoglossum agiasense I. KARATZAS.
In those days it was indeed Comperia comperiana instead of Himantoglossum comperianum; the name Karatzas gave to the hybrid was at that time fully correct. But there is no genus Comperia or Barlia anymore after DELFORGE’s (2005) analysis of the genus Himantoglossum. Today the correct name should be: Himantoglossum x agiasense I. KARATZAS 2004.

And gentlemen, don’t get smart now and don’t come up next month with an H. jankae ssp.
agiasense (KARATZAS) KREUTZ/ DELFORGE/ H&M 2015 or… (please fill in your name and your ‘discovery’ in capital letters).

HABITAT: I found a flowering Himantoglossum agiasense for the first time in 2011, almost withered but still recognizable. Also on this corner – a few meters away – stood a completely withered H. comperianum. But for the last four years stopping on this corner was never successful, there was nothing to photograph, I only could stare at the remains of eaten – by goats, or crushed – by humans – Himantoglossa, accompanied by some thrown away cigarette packets , plastic bags and goat shit. But this year I’m really lucky: the big orchid is in full flower! Hopefully the ‘farmer’ opposite this corner finally ate all his goats… And where was ‘comperianum’ you are going to ask me. I found 3 in the neighbourhood, at a distant of 20 or so meters, now almost withered but on the 31st of May they were still in full flower.

Sanatorio corner 31-5-15 H. caprinum or montis-tauri #114; H. x agiasense #090; H. comperianum #124

Sanatorio corner 31-5-15 H. caprinum #114; H. x agiasense #090; H. comperianum #124

And because of this remarkable absence of goats there were two other Himantoglossa to admire on this corner this time, although someone had stepped on one of them; it was crushed and half-broken: we had to give it a stick so it could stand up straight. And that was of all Lizard orchids maybe the much talked over H. montis-tauri. But the other one was still healthy, but very small for a H. caprinum. So we had them all three at the same time at the same spot.

Sanatorio corner 8-6-15 H. caprinum #030; H. x agiasense #016; H. montis-tauri? #078

Sanatorio corner 8-6-15 H. caprinum #030; H. x agiasense #016; H. montis-tauri? #078

The problem with those two ‘real’ Himantoglossa is that they are very small to be H. caprinum or montis-tauri. Also the caprinum I photographed on this same corner on 10-06-2012 was much too ‘petit’ in comparison with the big montis-tauri and caprinum which are growing above Megalochori. But it is possible this small size has to do with the grazing from the goats; the plants never had the opportunity to grow big?
But why was H. agiasense so big? Yes, hybrids can grow bigger but still…

Also – while looking to the upper (reddish) and lowest (green) flowers of Himantoglossum x agiasense – is it maybe a hybrid between H. comperianumH. montis-tauri AND H. caprinum? And what about the rumours in orchid circles that all Himantoglossa on Lesvos actually have to be renamed H. jankae? And where did this name come from?

Himantoglossum caprinum? Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 10-06-2012 #021

Himantoglossum caprinum? Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 10-06-2012 #021

RESEARCH: I never heard of H. jankae until I read WERNER HAHN’s article in 2012 ‘Auf den Spuren von Christian von Steven: Orchideen-und Bestäuberuntersuchungen im Krimgebirge 2011 and KREUTZ (2014) ‘Neue Erkentnisse zu den Orchideen Rumäniens’:
MOLNÁR, KREUTZ, ÓVÁRI, SENNIKOV, BATEMAN, TAKÁCS, SOMLYAY & SRAMKÓ (2012): ‘A new name, Himantoglossum jankaeis given to the widely recognized lizard orchid species that is distributed primarily in the Balkan Peninsula and the north-western region of Asia Minor and has been erroneously named H. caprinum in most previous literature. The new species differs from its closest relatives in having the combination of relatively large, reddish-purple coloured flowers and labella that bear red papillate spots and comparatively long spurs. (…) Given that the name H. caprinum remained formally correct when applied to Crimean plants, the confusion was not nomenclatural but rather taxonomic, manifested in the application of a single name to two species. Most importantly, it was the Crimean plant that was not misnamed. Since the name H. caprinum has always been applied to a taxon (although incorrectly circumscribed) that included its type, Art. 57.1 (ICBN; McNeill et al. 2006) does not apply. Consequently, in the absence of an available prior name at the rank of species, a new name must be given to the southeastern European (non-Crimean) taxon, which has erroneously been named H. caprinum in the literature from 1897 onwards. We therefore introduce the following name: Himantoglossum jankae Somlyay, Kreutz & Óvári sp. Nov.’

SRAMKÓ G., MOLNÁR A., HAWKINS J.A., BATEMAN R.M. (2014): ‘Molecular phylogeny and evolutionary history of the Eurasiatic orchid genus Himantoglossum s.l. (Orchidaceae)’. In their Key Results: ‘Among more controversial taxa of the H.hircinum-jankae clade, which are only subtle morphologically divergent, topological resolutions were poorer and topological in congruence between datasets was consequently greater.’ And one of their Conclusions was: ‘However, confident circumscription of the more derived species of Himantoglossum s.s., including local endemics of hybrid origin, must await future morphometric and population-genetic analyses.’

Himantoglossum caprinum? Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 23-06-2015 #004

Himantoglossum caprinum, jankae? Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 23-06-2015 #004

So now H. jankae is the new H. caprinum if I understand all this correctly and to top it off there are 3 new nomenclatural novelties and yes it can be done; 3 times your name behind 1 orchid….

Himantoglossum jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI subsp. jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI 2012. In the north-east Mediterranean area.

Himantoglossum jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI subsp. robustissimum (KREUTZ) KREUTZ comb. nov. Only in the north-west of Turkey in the province Akara and Bolu.

Himantoglossum jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI subsp. rumelicum (H.BAUMANN & R.LORENZ) KREUTZ comb. nov. More southwards on the Balkan peninsula as far as the middle of the north-west of Turkey.

Himantoglossum jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI subsp. calcaratum (BECK) KREUTZ comb. et stat. nov. Not mentioned but following BAUMANN only on the Balkan peninsula.

And I have high hopes that soon there will be Himantoglossum jankae SOMLYAY, KREUTZ & ÓVÁRI subsp. montis-tauri (KREUTZ) KREUTZ 2015. In the south of Turkey and on Lesvos.

Today Himantoglossum caprinum or jankae? Megalochori. © Jan van Lent 16-06-2014 #094

Himantoglossum caprinum or jankae? Megalochori. © Jan van Lent 16-06-2014 #094

BOTTOM-LINE: Why suddenly all this renaming by KREUTZ, BATEMAN and a group of Hungarian orchid researchers with as result the changing of the Himantoglossum hircinum group into a jankae group and H. caprinum into H. jankae? Is this because in 1882 BOISSIER did not described the difference between a lip with and without spots/stripes properly? Well, in that case – after very profound research – maybe all orchids can be outlawed and renamed by KREUTZ, BATEMAN and so on. 

For years it was known that there were five big Himantoglossa growing on Lesvos – unique for an island in the Aegean: H. robertianumH. comperiana and from the H. hircinum group H. caprinum – red/purper; H. montis-tauri - green/brown and H. affine - without dots/stripes on the lip. Well, the existence of affine was always unsure because one year there was one Himantoglossum without dots & stripes, and the next year it was gone again, and so as much as I like to find a real H. affine, I don’t think the photograph of the one above is the ‘real’ thing, probably it is just another hybrid.
But now we have a fourth possibility: Himantoglossum jankae. Or did I maybe understand this new name so generously given to us by MOLNÁR, KREUTZ, ÓVÁRI, SENNIKOV, BATEMAN, TAKÁCS, SOMLYAY & SRAMKÓ wrong?

Himantoglossum caprinum, H. montis-tauri & H. x agiasense. Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-06-2015 #004

Himantoglossum caprinum, H. montis-tauri & H. x agiasense. Sanatorio corner. © Jan van Lent 8-06-2015 #004.

Therefore I put my ear so close to the crushed montis-tauri that I could hear it whispering its last words: ‘Please KREUTZ don’t rename me again!’ But maybe it was just my fantasy or the sound from the strong, hot wind blowing through the pine trees. When we drove away and looked back a branch broke off from a pine tree and fell over this poor Himantoglossum montis-tauri; first crushed, then an attempt to rename it and now finally silenced…

Jan van Lent, Lesvos 11-06 – 5-07.2015

‘Don’t Crush Me’ Krezip 2005.



44: Ophrys ferrum-equinum & labiosa: ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Habitat: (Mixou) Plati, Anemomilos, Alifanta, Pyrgi, Mt.Gerania, Mt.Spathi.

Ophrys ferrum-equinum & labiosa, Anemomilos © Jan van Lent 8-04-2015 #074

Ophrys ferrum-equinum & labiosa, Anemomilos © Jan van Lent 8-04-2015 #074

Ophrys ferrum-equinum DESFOINTAINES 1807;
Ophrys labiosa C.A.J. KREUTZ 1997;
Ophrys ferrum-equinum subsp. labiosa (C.A.J. KREUTZ) C.A.J. KREUTZ 2004;
Ophrys ferrum-equinum var. labiosa (KREUTZ) HENNECKE stat. nov.;
Ophrys ferrum-equinum var. anafiensis BIEL 2001 =
Ophrys ferrum-equinum var. subtriloba HAYEK.
Ophrys ferrum-equinum subsp. spruneri (NYMAN) E.G. CAMUS.
Ophrys ferrum-equinum var. spruneri (NYMAN) …

Oph. ferrum-equinum, Plati 2-04-15 #479/ 10-04-15 #321 Oph.labiosa, Anemomilos

Oph. ferrum-equinum, Plati 2-04-15 #479/ 10-04-15 #321 Oph.labiosa, Anemomilos,

REMARKSOphrys ferrum-equinum and his fiancée ‘labiosa’ – always wearing a beautiful flared skirt – were everywhere to been seen this season; they were present at almost every field in the south of Lesvos. The first time I saw them dancing together this year was in the beginning of March around Pyrgi and they were still out there at the end of April. The first question in the field – is he ferrum-equinum and she labiosa – is not always easy to answer. Many orchid researchers decided to describe labiosa as a subspecies of Oph. ferrum-equinum, like KREUTZ did in 2004. Some ignore the different morphological features and just stay with ferrum-equinum. Others think Ophrys labiosa is a real independent species, like KREUTZ did earlier in 1997. And she has already been the talk of the ‘town’ for a long time, in fact since KREUTZ described Ophrys labiosa as an independent endemic (*) taxon from Turkey in 1997. Since then the rumours about her presence, looks & behaviour are numerous.

Ophrys labiosa: Anemomilos, 6-4-11 #120 & #128 // Mt. Gerania 20-4-15 #226

3x Ophrys labiosa: Anemomilos, 6-4-11 #120 & #128 // Mt. Gerania 20-4-15 #226

But there are some questions to be answered before they really can get married: Is ‘labiosa’ always in the proximity of ferrum-equinum, next to each other on the same habitat or also independent from each other on different habitats? In other words: Is she really going out with him? Or just once in a while? And what about their pollinator; does ‘she’ has the same lover as ‘him’ (Chalicodoma parietina)? And which orchid is nearby family, Ophrys mammosa from the mammosa-family or Ophrys lesbis from the argolica-family? Going through all my ferrum-equinum & labiosa photographs from recent years it strikes me that I have many more labiosa (70%) then ferrum-equinum (30%) in my database.

Conclusion 1: ‘Real’ ferrum-equinum is much more difficult to find on Lesvos than ‘real’ labiosa. Let’s see if this conclusion matches the opinion of other orchid researchers.

3x Ophrys ferrum-equinum; Mt. Spathi 22-3-10 #163; Alifantá 26-3-14 #194; Plati, 2-4-15
3x Ophrys ferrum-equinum; Mt. Spathi 22-3-10 #163; Alifantá 26-3-14 #194; Plati, 2-4-15

RESEARCHBIEL (Lesvos 1999) about the Ophrys labiosa on the island: ‘the finding on 02.04.1998 in a flat olive grove west from Moria corresponds exactly with the description in KREUTZ 1998: 441*. Also if this just recently described species is only known from the SW of Turkey, no other classification seems possible. Additional orchids: Ophrys ferrum-equinum, iricolor, minutula, sicula, speculum. There exists indeed also a certain resemblance with the 44 shown & discussed plants from HAHN & PASSIN 1997, which they assigned to Ophrys aegean, the Lesvos plants however show a clearly smaller form of the lip and a earlier flowering time. As far as is known up to now, these findings may be the first proof of existence for Greece.’ (Translation: JvL)

*KREUTZ (Turkey 1998: 441) described in 1997/1998 Ophrys labiosa as an endemic* species from a small region between Mugla and Antalya in the southwest of Turkey; but changed his mind in 2004; after this date he described labiosa as a subspecies from ferrum-equinum.
In ‘The Orchids of Rhodes and Karpathos’ (2002) KREUTZ wrote: ‘On Karpathos, it (O. ferrum-equinum) is unusually pluriform and varies in the colour of the perianth segments, in the labellum shape and speculum shape. This confusing diversity has probably contributed to the fact that sometimes solitary plants have been identified as Ophrys gottfriediana or Ophrys spruneri.’

var. gottfriediana & var. grigoriana (Mt.Palamas-Mt. Spathi, 12-4-14), var. subtriloba (Pyrgi, 19-3-15)
Also just variability’s or morphs of solitary growing O. ferrum-equinum on Lesvos?
var. gottfriediana & var. grigoriana (Mt.Palamas-Mt. Spathi, 12-4-14), var. subtriloba (Pyrgi, 19-3-15)

DEVILLERS et al (Lesvos 2010): Group of Ophrys mammosa: ‘Like many of the Lesbos orchids, Ophrys ferrum-equinum is limited to the eastern flank of the Olympos massif, the Spathi hills and their piedmont and the south-eastern peninsula (KARATZAS & KARATZA 2009). We saw stations of a few to a few tens of individuals on all visits in the first half of April, on 13 April 1990, 9-13 April 2003, and 6-14 April 2010. The “form labiosa” is by far the most common on Lesbos and it is the only one we saw. This raises the question of the status of Ophrys labiosa (s.l.). The species was described from South-western Anatolia (KREUTZ 1997) and the name has been applied to a variety of more or less similar plants in diverse locations. Though some of these are clearly morphs of 0. ferrum-equinum, their widespread occurrence may mask the existence of local, evolutionarily independent, taxa, in particular on Lesbos.’

PETROU et al (Greece 2011): ‘labiosa’ is just a variability of O. ferrum-equinum ssp. ferrum-equinum: ‘Its sole difference from the typical form is that the lip is constricted at its middle, so it appears long and wider at the tip, bell-shaped. It occurs either in pure populations or alongside the typical form, throughout the whole area of distribution.’
They also mentioned ‘parnassica’, ‘minor’ and ‘subtriloba’ as variability’s of O. ferrum-equinum ssp. ferrum-equinum.’ And they have a Note: ‘Here we disagree with KREUTZ (2004) who treats ‘labiosa’ as a subspecies, and agree with DELFORGE (2001) who, in a rare ‘unitive’ mood, thinks of the aforementioned taxa as simple expressions of the taxon’s variability’. ‘This taxon (O. ferrum-equinum) presents great variability in size and in shape of the lip and speculum, often within the same population, a fact which often leads to false identification and jubilant records of ‘new’ taxa. It may be confused with O.spruneri ssp. spruneri, which, however, has stronger colours, a trilobed lip and an H-shaped speculum; or with O. ferrum-equinum ssp. gottfriediana, which, however, has a limited distribution, a different lip shape, and often white or green sepals.’

DELFORGE (Europe, North Africa & the Middle East 2005) about O. ferrum-equinum: ‘Varied, and sometimes confused with O.argolica or incorrectly placed within its group. Numerous taxa have been described but all (‘labiosa’, ‘subtriloba’ & ‘parnassica’) fall within the range of variation of the nominative var. and often flower with it.’ And: ‘The eastern species, apparently influenced by O. mammosa s.l. (in particular O. ferrum-equinum), may in fact represent a relic, ancestral lineage, close to the common ancestor of the two groups (argolica & mammosa groups), rather than recently stabilised hybrid swarms.

BAUMANN et all (2006) recognize only Ophrys ferrum-equinum ssp. ferrum-equinum as a real taxon; all the other taxa (ssp. aegea, climatis, convexa, gottfriediana, lesbis, lucis, & mandalyana) are in their opinion subspecies under ferrum-equinum.

ANTONOPOULOS (Greece 2009) treated both species as members of the Mammosa group, together with mammosa, spruneri, gottfriediana, grigoriana, hystera, hansreinhardii, helenae & leucophthalma. And he thought that the ‘real’ ferrum-equinum was not flowering on Lesvos because in his drawing on page 252 Lesvos is still a grey area.
Ophrys ferrum-equinum is recognized by the outspread lip with grey-violet marginal hairs on the shoulders and the shiny blue speculum which is not surrounded by a white line and does not reach the basal field of the lip.’ Ophrys ferrum-equinum subsp. labiosa – common on Lesbos: ‘A newly recognized subspecies, sometimes considered as a separate species, with a very convex lip and folded lip edges, which are spreading outwards only at the apical part of the lip, giving a conical appearance to it.’
Without going deeply into those groups – otherwise this blog will not end in the near future – I will put the ‘leader of the pack’ and some of its species I found on Lesvos next to each other, just to get a clear view.

Oph. mammosa (Pyrgi 14-4-15 #105), labiosa (Anemomilos 6-4-11 #128) & f-e (Alifantá 21-3-13 #226)
Oph. mammosa (Pyrgi 14-4-15 #105), labiosa (Anemomilos 6-4-11 #128) & f-e (Alifantá 21-3-13 #226)

Oph. lesbis (Andissa 7-4-15 #050); Oph. f-e (Alifantá 26-3-14 #194); labiosa (Anemomilos 6-4-11 #214)
. lesbis (Andissa 7-4-15 #050); Oph. ferrum-equinum (Alifantá 26-3-14 #194); labiosa (Anemomilos 6-4-11 #214)

Conclusion 2: Morphologically it looks if O. ferrum-equinum and labiosa have more to do with Oph. lesbis (from the argolica-group) than with Oph. mammosa.

And what was PEDERSEN & FAURHOLDT’s (2007) opinion about ferrum-equinum and labiosa? That was a simple one: ‘there is only O. ferrum-equinum ssp. ferrum-equinum and O. ferrum-equinum ssp. gottfriediana’. It really reads like: there is only one God and his name is Allah. ‘Labiosa’ is only once mentioned: ‘additionally, aberrant individuals with strongly re-curved lip sides (almost as in subsp. gottfriediana) are occasionally encountered in populations of subsp. ferrum-equinum (e.g. in Lesbos, Samos and Rhodes). Anatolian populations of large flowered plants with downward directed lips were recently described as a separate species, O.labiosa Kreutz. We have observed similar individuals in populations of O. ferrum-equinum ssp. ferrum-equinum from Lesbos, Chios and Samos.’ And then there is this big silence…

In the field I consider all those different forms as varieties of Oph. ferrum-equinum. And there are a lot more varieties of the Horseshoe Ophrys; this season’s ferrum-equinum started with a ‘real’ Ophrys ferrum-equinum var. subtriloba described by Hayek but later on renamed by BIEL as var. anafiensis BIEL 2001. This variety is already for years flowering on the same habitat – Pyrgi – but I found also var. subtriloba in Alifantá. And it has indeed some similarities with Ophrys spruneri NYMAN, and that is maybe the reason that there were always rumours about the existence of Ophrys spruneri on Lesvos.

© Jan van Lent 16-4-11 #264 Alifantá// 26-3-14 324 Pyrgi//19-3-15 #216 Pyrgi
© Jan van Lent 16-4-11 #264 Alifantá// 26-3-14 324 Pyrgi//19-3-15 #216 Pyrgi

The last (because written in 2015) words are for HENNECKE & MUNZINGER: ‘According to molecular data (whose molecular data?) the subsection Ferrum-equini (?) belongs in the section Araniferae with only one species: Ophrys ferrum-equinum. Ophrys lycia could be a species of hybridogenous origin.’ That’s all? That is a bit short through the corners guys; are you more catholic than the Pope? Ophrys lycia? And recognizing only Ophrys lycia as a taxon next to ferrum-equinum is a bit strange.
But to be fair: ‘In accordance with the  Biospecies-concept there are no subspecies, but only varieties; Oph. ferrum-equinum var. gottfriediana; Oph. ferrum-equinum var. labiosa (KREUTZ) HENNECKE stat. nov.; Oph. ferrum-equinum var. minor.’

Conclusion 3: I agree with H&M above, I also think that all those differences in lips are just varieties; the question is from which species: ferrum-equinum or labiosa? It is just a pity that both gentlemen never visited Lesvos (?) – and clearly never read an article about the Orchids of Lesvos. Maybe that’s why they still believe that you can’t find neither Ophrys ferrum-equinum nor Ophrys labiosa flowering on Lesvos…

Finally a happily married couple: labiosa (l) & ferrum-equinum (r) Alifantá © Jan van Lent 11-04-2012 #389
Finally a happily married – older – couple together: labiosa (l) & ferrum-equinum (r) Alifantá © Jan van Lent 11-04-2012 #389

BOTTOM-LINE:  Ophrys ferrum-equinum has many different ‘faces’. So after we ‘clearly’ have established all morphologic differences between all Ophrys ferrum-equinum and labiosa varieties on Lesvos – and as clear as the differences between the two lovers are visible in the above picture it is almost never in the field – this question still arises:
Is she really going out with him? Always? Accordingly I checked all the habitats where he (O. ferrum-equinum), she (O. labiosa) or they (var. triloba, var. gottfriediana & var. grigoriana) were flowering in recent years and this is my conclusion 4: No, she is not always going out with him. I think she goes out dating with everybody who is flowering on her habitat so they might be all hybrids and/or varieties. But Ophrys lesbis is the one which – on Lesvos – is NEVER flowering in the neighbourhood of ferrum-equinum or labiosa but looks like a very close family member: is there a Highly Qualified Orchid Researcher around who is willing to compare the molecular data of Ophrys ferrum-equinum, labiosa and lesbis? And whilst doing so: can they take Ophrys spruneri into account as well? Thanks.

Ophrys ferrum-equinum or Ophrys spruneri? Pyrgí © Jan van Lent 10-04-2015 #098
O. ferrum-equinum var. subtriloba or O. spruneri? Pyrgí © Jan van Lent 10-04-2015 #098

Again PEDERSEN & FAURHOLDT (2007): ‘This species (Ophrys ferrum-equinum) has a superficial resemblance to O. sphegodes subsp. spruneri which, however, can be readily recognised by its usually H-shaped mirror with distinct connections to the base of the lip.’

BIEL B. (Lesvos 1999) about Ophrys spruneri: ‘this finding of 02.04.1998, ca. 1.5km distant from the location of Ophrys labiosa, unfortunately was of only 1 plant in an olive grove WNW of Moria. This plant (the Lesvos- “variant”) did not exactly correspond to the typical Ophrys spruneri, which usually shows a smaller, round, 3-cut flower lip and often also 2-coloured lateral sepals. It maybe acts also here as an example of the op-positional influencing of various taxa in a narrow habitat, in evolutionary processes.’ (Translation: JvL)

Jan van Lent, Lesvos, 21-5-2015.

Joe Jackson 2003: ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him?’ (1978) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcxUTIylUxI

The Shangri-las 1964 ‘Leader Of The Pack’

*Endemic: limited to a certain region. Yes, but I really get a bit allergic of orchidologists who think they found a ‘new’ orchid in a ‘certain’ area, for instance a mountain on Rhodes or Chios or on the other side in Turkey and then claim this orchid as endemic. But how can they know this? Are they on ALL OTHER ISLANDS in Greece and Turkey AT THE SAME MOMENT, and IN THE SAME YEAR? Are some orchidologists really clairvoyant?

43: Ophrys lesbis: ‘Go West!’

Habitat: Andissa, the road to Gavathas and Lapsarna, Petrified Forest and Mt.Fouga!

Road from Andissa to Gavathas, © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #002

Go West! Road from Andissa to Gavathas, © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #002

The Ophrys argolica-group (DELFORGE 2005), on Lesvos only Ophrys lesbis.
Ophrys lesbis GÖLZ & REINHARD 1989.
Ophrys argolica H. FLEISCHM. ssp. lesbis (GÖLZ & REINHARD) PEDERSEN & FAURHOLDT 2007.

Ophrys lesbis, road to Gavathas © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #013

Ophrys lesbis, road to Gavathas © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #013

HUNTING: Ophrys lesbis is not rare on Lesvos, but you have to know where to look and you have to be lucky with the time and your charter flight… because this Ophrys is flowering from the middle of March to the middle of April. There are no charters around so ‘early’ in the season so if you take a regular flight you don’t have to fight with other orchidologists to secure THE spot for your photograph of Ophrys lesbis. And talking about where to look: I knew that Ophrys lesbis was flowering around Andissa in the west of Lesvos but it was not so obvious that I could find it immediately.  It took me two years ‘with a little help from my (orchidologists) friends’ to hunt it down for the first time. When I found her she (I think the word lesbis should be female) was growing on a steep slope on the side of the road which is leading from Andissa to Gavathas.

Ophrys lesbis, road to Gavathas © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #001

Ophrys lesbis, road to Gavathas © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #001

HABITAT: But I don’t know how long those habitats will survive when I see the recent road building activity in the west, not only between Sigri and Andissa but also between Andissa and Gavathas… Strangely enough there were (almost) no orchids in sight on the Andissa habitat this week. Only one very small Ophrys sicula peeped up between the thorny bushes.  I was surprised because normally I find tens of orchids on this Andissa slope, and not only the ‘lesser’ genera like Orchis collina & sancta but also the ‘upper class’ like Ophrys lesbis, bucephala, oestrifera s.l. (cornutula?), fusca s.l. (lindia?), mammosa and sicula. Anyway, after I finally found one ‘lesbis’ habitat it was not so difficult to find more in the surroundings: on a sidetrack from the road to Lapsarna and on the Lapsarna road itself. But this week (24-3-2015) I also found a solitary Ophrys lesbis in the old oak forest where last year I found Ophrys apifera and – next to the road – Orchis purpurea: on Mt.Fouga.

Ophrys lesbis, Mt. Fouga © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #083

Ophrys lesbis, Mt. Fouga © Jan van Lent 24-03-2015 #083

So which ‘challenge’ do we have to encounter on looking at and photographing Ophrys lesbis? First the name: is it a subspecies from Ophrys argolica or is it an autonomous taxon? And anyway, should anybody in the field – lying in the mud between snakes & thorny bushes – care about this?

Ophrys lesbis, road to Gavathas © Jan van Lent, 2-04-2013 #201

Ophrys lesbis, road to Gavathas © Jan van Lent, 2-04-2013 #201

RESEARCH: In the days of SUNDERMANN (Europe & Mediterranean, 1980) there was only Ophrys argolica from Greece and maybe also from the south of Turkey. Interesting is the observation from Sundermann that: ‘it looked like Ophrys ferrum-equinum, with which it partly conjoint, but whose lip has in every part only very short hairs and doesn’t (with only a few exceptions) have the white hairs on the ‘shoulders’. Also in 1980 Ophrys argolica H. FLEISCHMANN ap. VIERHAPPER 1919 was described from Argos in Greece. KALTEISEN & REINHARD described in 1987 Ophrys aegaea from Karpathos and Ophrys lucis from Rhodes. GÖLZ & REINHARD described in 1989 Ophrys lesbis from Lesvos.

GÖLZ & REINHARD (1989) the authors of O. lesbis themselves: ‘Ophrys lesbis belongs to the Ophrys aegaea-argolica complex (cf. Kalteisen und Reinhard 1987). We have for this reason put them under Ophrys argolica with the addition that it presents as a distinctly divergent relative from the type of O. argolica. (transl. JvL)
BIEL (1998): ‘Ophrys lesbis (described as type from Lesvos) is relatively rare with 9 sites (22 reports) and each time only with a few individuals on the site. They are limited on the calcareous, fine sandy habitats in the west of Lesvos’. (transl. JvL)
But a lot of orchidologists were not amused with those names: in BAUMANN ET AL (Europe, 2006) we find Ophrys lesbis back under the name Ophrys ferrum-equinum subsp. lesbis. And you almost can’t guess my surprise when I looked at the authors: H. BAUMANN & R. LORENZ.
And here we arrive directly at the essence of the ‘problem’: is Ophrys lesbis a member of the argolica group or a member of the mammosa group and a sister of ferrum-equinum and labiosa?  If you compare the darker species of O. lesbis (in the middle) with ferrum-equinum and labiosa you maybe could think so.

O.ferrum-equinum, Anemomilos 6-04-11 #209. O.lesbis, Andissa 8-04-11 #156.  O.labiosa, Alifantá 21-03-13 #226

(l) O.ferrum-equinum, Anemomilos 6-04-11 #209. (m) O.lesbis, Andissa 8-04-11 #156.  (r) O.labiosa, Alifantá 21-03-13 #226

But PEDERSEN/FAURHOLDT (2007) thought different: for them it is Ophrys argolica subsp. lesbis H. PEDERSEN & N. FAURHOLDT.
Also PETROU & ET AL (Greece, 2011): ‘O. argolica subsp. lesbis, a taxon of the eastern Aegean; it occurs in Lesvos, Chios, Samos and south-western Anatolia.’
And then also H&M (2014) – Manfred HENNECKE & Stefan MUNZINGER –wanted to make a point about the Ophrys argolica subspecies. It’s a pity that they always forget their camera (I never see any pictures) when they are in the – their?- field and that they also forgot to integrate Ophrys lesbis in their biospecies concept: ‘According to molecular-genetic data the subsection Argolicae belongs into the section Araniferae. Within this subsection seven species are defined: Ophrys argolica, climacis, delphinensis, elegans, icariensis, lucis and morisii; last six species are of hybridogenous origin’.
What happened with Ophrys lesbis H&M? Lost? Never saw it in the field gents? Never been on Lesvos? And what about Ophrys aegaea, also lost in biospecies space?

Ophrys lesbis, Gavathas road © Jan van Lent 2-04-2013 #219

Ophrys lesbis, Gavathas road © Jan van Lent 2-04-2013 #219

BOTTOM-LINE: Meanwhile, as far as Ophrys lesbis is concerned, nothing has changed in the last 25 years. She is still there, she doesn’t mind if we call her a species or a subspecies and if she is in the section Araniferae (likely in the sense of REICHB.F.1851) and/or in subsection Spegodes. But maybe she is afraid that we call her Ophrys lesbian instead of Ophrys lesbis. So, if you want to see her on Lesbos you have to go west – like in the old days when you wanted to visit the famous lyric poet Sappho – because that is the only place where she is (for Sappho: was) flowering. And I actually have to write still flowering because I noticed that ‘they’ are building a new asphalt highway to the west – also planned over the habitat of Ophrys lesbis on the road to Gavathas, maybe cutting the ‘famous’ Andissa corner and the road to Lapsarna. Then the only place where you still can see the Lesvos Ophrys will be in the Petrified Forest (but then you have to pay to see her…) or you will have to crawl in March through the oak forest on Mt. Fouga; the habitat where I found one Ophrys lesbis this week.

Jan van Lent, Lesvos 28-3-2015.

“Go West’ Pet Shop Boys (1993):
or “Go West”: the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir,

42. Ophrys sicula vs. Ophrys galilaea: ‘In Another Land’.

Habitat: Eftalou (Mno)

Habitat 1e Ophrys sicula Eftalou © Jan van Lent, 20-02-2015 #197

Habitat 1e Ophrys sicula Eftalou © Jan van Lent, 20-02-2015 #197

Ophrys sicula TINEO 1817 (KEW) or 1846 (IPNI) or
Ophrys galilaea H. FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER 1923.

Homotypic* synonyms:
Ophrys lutea var. sicula (TINEO) NYMAN 1882;
Ophrys lutea f.* sicula (TINEO) SOÓ 1927;
Ophrys fusca var. sicula (TINEO) E.G. CAMUS & A. CAMUS 1928;
Ophrys lutea ssp. sicula (TINEO) SOLDANO 1993.

Heterotypic* synonyms:
Ophrys lutea ssp. galilaea (H. FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER) SOÓ 1926
Ophrys lutea ssp. sicula (Todaro) O. & E. DANESCH;
Ophrys sicula ssp. galilaea (H. FLEISCHM. & BORNM.) H.F. PAULUS & GACK 1990;
Ophrys sicula (TINEO) NYMAN, 1882;
Ophrys lutea var. minor (TODARO) GUSSONE;
Ophrys lutea ssp. minor (TODARO) O. & E. DANESCH.
Ophrys minor (TODARO) H.F. PAULUS & GACK.
Ophrys galilaea H. FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER 1923, typus: Israel 21-04-1892;
Ophrys minor ssp. galilaea (H. FLEISCHM. & BORNM.) H.F. PAULUS & GACK.

1e Ophrys sicula, Eftalou © Jan van Lent 20-02-2015 #189

1e Ophrys sicula, Eftalou © Jan van Lent 20-02-2015 #189

HABITAT: This year the first ‘yellow’ Ophrys flowered in a different way compared to earlier years: both flowered directly out of the stem. Normally the stem grows until a few centimeters high and then the flowers open. This year the flowers didn’t wait for the stem to grow higher, they just appeared almost from the base of the stem or from the rosette.

2e Ophrys sicula, Eftalou © Jan van Lent 22-02-2015 #024

2e Ophrys sicula, Eftalou © Jan van Lent 22-02-2015 #024

NAMES: In this – and earlier – blogs I usually use the shortest version of an orchid name; as in this case Ophrys sicula or only ‘sicula’ instead of a full name like: Ophrys lutea ssp. sicula (Tod.) Dan. I realise that this can lead to confusion. Clearly I don’t know – and I don’t mind when I meet an orchid in the field – if an orchid is a ‘real’ species, a subspecies or just a variety, that’s for others to decide; there are ‘wars’ between orchid researchers about this – and almost every other – orchid subject. But I get sad when an orchid I and almost all orchid researchers and orchidologists know today under the name ‘sicula’ – the early flowering, small, yellow Ophrys which is related to Ophrys lutea, has to be renamed ‘galilaea’. Who says so? Well, Pedersen, H.Æ. & Faurholdt, N. (2007) & Kew Gardens at first, now (the proposals of) HENNECKE M. & MUNZINGER S. (2014) also try to rename this orchid. I understand why some orchidologists wanted to use the name ‘minor’ because it is a small version of the bigger Ophrys lutea. But ‘galilaea’? Oh yes, wasn’t that the subspecies or even variety which was found in 1892 in Palestine and described by FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER in 1923? And what has this species or even the proposed name to do with Ophrys sicula from – for instance – Lesvos? ‘Tipota’ we say here in Greece, nothing. The only ‘real’ Ophrys (lutea ssp) galilaea photographed  was I think from Israel, Zikhron ( R. PETER on 12-02-1983) and in 2012 maybe the photograph from MUNZINGER S, made in Sicily in 2012. And that was also totally different from the Ophrys sicula or even from the Ophrys phryganae growing on Lesvos. Also BAUMANN’s photograph of Ophrys lutea ssp. galilaea made in N-Israel, Haifa on 14-03-1994 is not in heart and soul a real ‘sicula‘; his photograph of Ophrys lutea ssp. minor was closer to it. I could publish a book about all the names and written ‘tangle’ of names this small Small Yellow Mirror Orchid has been called through the years and centuries. ‘Lutea’ was the most common, ‘sicula’ a good second; ‘galilaea’ the third and ‘fusca’ & ‘minor’ last. And then I don’t include all the homo- and heterotypic synonyms (30), hybrids and variations (12) which are described. So let me make a list of the Ophrys lutea taxa in the recent Mediterranean –  Greece – Aegean islands orchid literature taking 15 years ago as the starting point:

KREUTZ, C.A.J.: ‘Die Orchideen der Türkei’, (1998).
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1846;
KREUTZ, C.A.J.: ‘Die Orchideen von Rhodos, Karpathos’, (2002).
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1846;
KREUTZ, C.A.J.: ‘Die Orchideen von Zypern’, The Orchids of Cyprus’, (2004).
Ophrys melena (RENZ 1928) PAULUS & GACK 1990;
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1817;
KRETZSCHMAR, H. & G. & ECCARIUS, W.: ‘Orchids Crete & Dodecanese’, (2004).
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1846;
DELFORGE, P.: ‘Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East’, (2005).
The Ophrys Lutea group:
Ophrys lutea CAVANILLES 1753;
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1846;
Ophrys melena (RENZ 1928) PAULUS & GACK 1990;

The first ones who came up with the name ‘galilaea’ again were:
Orchideen Europas mit angrenzenden Gebieten’, (2006).
Ophrys lutea CAV. subsp. lutea;
Ophrys lutea subsp. galilaea (H. FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER 1923) SOÓ;
Ophrys lutea subsp. laurensis (GENIEZ & MELKI) KREUTZ;
Ophrys lutea subsp. phryganae (DEVILLERS-TERSCHUREN & DEVILLERS) MELKI;
Ophrys lutea subsp. melena RENZ;
Ophrys lutea subsp. minor (Tod.) O. & E. DANESCH;
Ophrys lutea subsp. murbeckii (H. FLEISCHM.) SOÓ.
This is interesting because the authors describe the differences between ‘minor’ and ‘galilaea’: Subsp. minor (lip 8-11 x 8.5-10mm, yellow border 2-2.5mm) distinguish itself from subsp. galilaea (lip 8.5-10.5 x 7.5-9.5mm, yellow border at the side 1.8-2.7mm, down 04-1mm) by a bigger lip… and the pollinator is also different: Subsp. minor should be pollinated by Andrena hesperia and subsp. galilaea by Andrena taraxaci.
PEDERSEN H./FAURHOLDT N.: ‘Ophrys, the bee orchids of Europe’, (2007).
Ophrys lutea CAV. subsp. lutea, synonym = O. phryganae J. DEVILLERS-TERSCHUREN & P. DEVILLERS 1991.
Ophrys lutea CAV. subsp. galilaea (H. FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER) SOÓ 1926;
Ophrys lutea CAV. subsp. melena RENZ.
KARATZÁS G. & A.: ‘Orchidées, agrioloúlouda tis Lésvou’, (2008).
Ophrys sicula TINEO;
ANTONOPOULOS Z.: ‘The bee orchids of Greece’, (2009).
The Ophrys Lutea group:
Ophrys lutea CAVANILLES 1753;
Ophrys sicula TINEO;
Ophrys melena (RENZ) PAULUS & GACK 1990;
PETROU, PETROU & GIANNAKOULIS: ‘Orchids of Greece’, (2011):
Ophrys lutea CAVANILLES subsp. lutea;
Ophrys lutea subsp. phryganae (DEVILLERS-TERSCHUREN & DEVILLERS) MELKI.
Ophrys lutea subsp. minor (Todaro) O. & E. DANESCH. = syn. of O. lutea subsp. sicula;
Ophrys lutea subsp. melena RENZ.
TAYLOR, M.: ‘Revised illustrated checklist Orchids of Chios, Inouses & Psara’, (2012).
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1846;
Ophrys phryganae J.D. TERSCHUREN & DEVILLERS 1991.
ROMOLINI, R. & SOUCHE, R.: Ophrys d’Italia (2012):
Ophrys lepida S.MOINGEON & J.-M. MOINGEON 2005;
Ophrys archimedea P. DELFORGE & M. WALRAVENS 2000;
Ophrys sicula TINEO 1846;
Ophrys corsica SOLEIROL ex G. FOELSCHE & W. FOELSCHE 2002;
Ophrys lutea CAVANILLES 1753;

DEVILLERS, P., BAETEN, F., DEDROOG, L., DEVILLERS -TERSCHUREN, J. & FLAUSCH, A. ‘Orchids of Lesbos : Distributional and Biogeographical Notes.’ Natural. belges 91 (Orchid. 23): 206-245. 2010.
Group of Ophrys lutea:
Ophrys sicula TINEO (s.l.)
‘The plants (of Ophrys lutea collectives) we saw on Lesbos during our three visits, in spite of a rather large spectrum of altitude-corrected flowering dates, appeared to belong to a single taxon clearly referable to O.sicula s.l. in view of its consistently flat labellum. In detail, however, these plants are quite different from those we have seen in Sicily, peninsular Italy, the Dalmatian archipelago, the Ionian Islands and continental Greece.
The Lesbos plants also have, in general, a very broad yellow margin to a labellum that curves up at the rim. They certainly belong to a unit that is specifically distinct from Italo-Sicilian and continental Greek populations. The limits of its range and thus the existence of names to be applied to it remain to be analyzed. Ophrys sicula s.l. is the most widespread Ophrys on the island and we have seen small to medium-sized stations in most of the south-eastern quadrant and in the Andissa-Eresos corridor in the west.’

HENNECKE M. & MUNZINGER S. (2014): Die neue systematische Gliederung der Gattung Ophrys: subgenus Ophrys section Pseudophrys. Ber. Arbeidskrs. Heim. Orchid. 31 (1): 99-126. Untersektion Luteae:
Ophrys lutea Cav. 1793
Ophrys galilaea H. FLEISCHMANN & BORNMULLER 1923:
‘”Sicula” is according to BAUMANN & KÜNKELE (1986) a synonym of Ophrys lutea subsp. minor, and by this they meant a small but characteristic ‘”lutea“, which frequently occurs in Sicily: labellum circle-round, middle- and side lobes overlapping or so close together, that – from above – it looks like it doesn’t have a opening between the lobes. Front of the middle lobe always yellow. It is a variety of the nominative form, only smaller, otherwise identical.’

Oph. sicula Eftalou © Jan van Lent 4-04-12 #028

Oph. sicula Eftalou © Jan van Lent 4-04-12 #028

BOTTOM-LINE: There is a lot written about the name of this small Ophrys lutea member, the most used is Ophrys sicula. I don’t know where HENNECKE & MUNZINGER went to see ‘their’ Ophrys galilaea but I don’t think it was Israel or Lesvos. Here on Lesvos we have ‘only’ the above described ‘minor’ variety from BAUMANN & KÜNKELE and of course Ophrys phrygana. Also all the other authors – see list above – just described this ‘minor’ variety. I think HENNECKE & MUNZINGER  - like PEDERSEN & FAURHOLDT – were far away when they renamed this orchid, maybe even in another land…

Jan van Lent, Lesvos 27-02-2015.

Rolling Stones: ‘In Another Land’ (1967).

*f. = forma (form)

*Homotypic (literally “with the same type”. In botanical nomenclature a homotypic synonym (or nomenclatural synonym) is a synonym that comes into being through a nomenclatural act.

*Heterotypic (literally “with a different type”. In botanical nomenclature a heterotypic synonym (or taxonomic synonym) is a synonym that comes into being when a taxon is reduced in status (“reduced to synonymy“) and becomes part of a different taxon.


41. A new season: ‘Losing my Religion?’

Habitat: Eftalou & Lambou Mili.

© Jan van Lent, Eftalou 1-02-2015 #006
View from H. robertianum during red sand storm © Jan van Lent, Eftalou 1-02-2015 #006

Himantoglossum robertianum (LOISELEUR 1807) DELFORGE 2005.
Ex Barlia robertiana (LOISL.) GREUTER 1967.

Ophrys fusca ssp. or var. sancti-isidorii SALIARIS & ALIBERTIS 2010.
Ex Ophrys fusca LINK 1800.

H. robertianum during red sand storm © Jan van Lent, Eftalou 1-02-2015 #004

Just opening H. robertianum during red sand storm © Jan van Lent, Eftalou 1-02-15 #004

HABITAT: The first orchid to flower this season (2015) in Eftalou was Himantoglossum robertianum, on the first of February in a heavy storm with red skies (even the Greek sky was coloured red as a tribute to the victory of the left-wing party SYRIZA…). This orchid maybe has a very stabile internal clock: last year it opened also on the 1st of February. I discovered this orchid 4 years ago on a – then – abandoned olive grove in Eftalou, and then rescued it the following year when municipality workers started destroying (or as they probably called it ‘rescuing’) this field whilst dredging a stream coming from the mountain. I managed to get this – then – tiny species out of the ground before they dug it up as they did with its ‘mother’ the year before. I planted it in a pot for one year to see if it would survive the stress and replanted it last year after the flowers were gone.

So yes, it survived and came to world during a two-day southern windstorm from Africa, the so-called khamsin* with red sand and wind blast measuring 10 or higher on the Beaufort scalemeaning a wind speed of 24.5 m/s (88,2 km/h, 55 mph) or more and temperatures around 20 degrees C. So a lot of branches of the olive trees were blown down and some ‘salt’ trees (Tamarix parviflora) on the beaches but the houses pulled through. As did Robert’s giant Orchid. It’s incredible: one day you face the storm & rain and there is not a flower to be seen, one day later – still during this storm – it is not only Robert’s Giant Orchid but also Anemones, Veronicas, Narcissus and Grape Hyacinths who wanted to see and feel the khamsin storm. I don’t think the almond-trees thought this storm was a good idea, they were the big losers’: they not only lost a lot of their just opening flowers – so less almonds this year – but also a lot of their branches.

It was not the first orchid to see the – red  - light on Lesvos this year; that was reserved on account of Ophrys eh… yes, for the first flowering Ophrys from the fusca family on Lesvos, Ophrys sancti-isidorii on the 23rd of January in the pine forest next to a parking space before Lambou Mili. (see BLOG’s no’s 30 to 34 ‘Sooner or Later’.)

Oph. sancti-isidorii, Lambou Mili © Jan van Lent 23-01-2015 #035
Oph. sancti-isidorii
, Lambou Mili © Jan van Lent 23-01-2015 #035 pl1.

And it is unbelievable that already three of them were already out here after the freezing cold (-3 to -7) from the week before. And this habitat is not lying next to the relative warm sea, it is at a height of 185 metres in the hills. So optimistically I drove to Mytilini and Alifantá that day, only to see that there were just orchid rosettes and not even with a hint of a stem. This was also the case at Anemomilos, hidden on the east coast of the Gulf of Gera, a few meters up from the relative warm waters of the Gulf. Hundreds of rosettes here also but yes, a few had already a stem and a flower bud.

So let’s try again to say something valid or just something sensible about this first-flowering Ophrys on Lesvos which I call – I don’t have an other option – Ophrys sancti-isidorii. But here in the pine forest they have a red border on their lip instead of a yellow one as described by SALIARIS & ALIBERTIS, so are they maybe influenced by Ophrys sitiaca? But I never identified a ‘real’ Ophrys sitiaca on this habitat. It is a complete isolated fusca group here in the pine forest before Lambou Mili, probably influenced by each other and by different pollinators. I don’t know how long they are already growing here, but I have already been ‘doing’ them for 5 years, since 2011, so maybe they were always here, but eaten, walked or pissed down like last year in March. They are the same three first flowering Ophrys from this habitat from the last years (see all blogs ‘Sooner or Later’) which I then also called Ophrys sancti-isidorii. But I’m not so sure anymore, this is how it always goes with the fusca group: I’m losing my confidence, my faith that I can distinguish the early members of this fusca family from each other.

First flowering ‘real’ O. s-isidorii Anemomilos 2014 & first 2015 O. s-isidorii Lambou Mili.

First flowering ‘real’ O. s-isidorii Anemomilos 2014 & first 2015 O. s-isidorii Lambou Mili.

NO RESEARCH: This whole Ophrys fusca group is still a pain in the ass for me. Now I’m sitting again behind my computer to stare at the photographs I took on the 23rd of January and I had already problems to identify the hundreds of fusca members which I photographed in recent years. And there is not much help to find in the books or on the Internet because most West-European orchid researchers still think that the orchid season on the North-Aegean Islands starts in April when the first charters fly directly to the islands: only the most heroic orchidologists visit at the end of March. So actually this whole first flowering Ophrys fusca group in January and February is never discovered, with the exception of course of the Greek orchid researchers; they know how difficult it is to distinguish these early ‘brown eyebrows’ from each other. So if I’m not able to unravel the fusca group to the most ‘known’ taxa, maybe I can unravel their hybrids…

‘Real’ Oph. sitiaca, Alifantá, 30-1-14 & Oph. s-isidorii x sitiaca? from Lambou Mili 23-1-15

‘Real’ Oph. sitiaca, Alifantá, 30-1-14 & Oph. s-isidorii x sitiaca? from Lambou Mili 23-1-15

BOTTOM-LINE: I can write this blog full of explanations and semi-scientific baloney about bad-eyesight (from the pollinators of course), the survival of the fittest (from the Ophrys of course), the hybridization process between Ophrys sancti-isidorii, sitiaca, leucadica, lindia and pelinaea on Lesvos; the influence of the weather in December and January and the influence of the absurd, not controlled grazing of sheep and goats on this island. But in the field I only want to know three things: how can I distinguish them from each other, can I put a name on them and do they look the same as the last years/will they return the same in the following season. And yes, I also do measuring and things like talking and cuddling, I compare and compare, I read the descriptions time and time over, but it all doesn’t help. I still can’t say with certainty which is which. I even don’t know anymore if I should write species, subspecies or just variety. I lost my faith in this early Ophrys fusca family, maybe even my religion.

Jan van Lent, Eftalou 4-02-2015.

R.E.M. London 2001: ‘Losing My Religion’ (1991)


40. The Ophrys umbilicata-group (2), Ophrys bucephala: ‘Strange Brew’.

Habitats: Andissa, Megalochori-Spides, Plomari-Melinda.

Habitat Andissa © Jan van Lent 28-03-2014 #041.

Habitat Andissa © Jan van Lent 28-03-2014 #041.

The Ophrys umbilicata-group, on Lesvos according to Karatzá (2008):
Ophrys umbilicata: DESFONTAINES 1807;
Ophrys attica: (BOISSIER & ORPHANIDES) B. D. JACKSON 1894 or
Ophrys umbilicata ssp. attica (BOISSIER & ORPHANIDES) J.J. WOOD.
Ophrys bucephala GÖLZ & REINHARD 1990 or synonym:
Ophrys umbilicata ssp. bucephala (GÖLZ & REINHARD) BIEL 1998.

Ophrys bucephala, Andissa © Jan van Lent 28-03-2014 #092

Ophrys bucephala, Andissa © Jan van Lent 28-03-2014 #092.

REMARKSOphrys bucephala was described for the first time by GÖLZ & REINHARD in 1989, on Lesvos, as the big brother of Ophrys umbilicata. They described ‘bucephala’ in 5 different habitats on Lesvos; Sigri (29-3-1988), Andissa (6-4-1988), Ambeliko (7-4-1978), Megalochori (7/10-4-1988) & Plomari (3-4-1978 & 2-4-1988). They based themselves on ‘PP & HR’ (in PG & HR 1981) sub.nom. O.carmeli ‘grossblütig’. Which means in an understandable human language: The authors themselves, Peter Gölz & Hans Reinhard, had already described a large flowered Ophrys carmeli in 1981- Ophrys carmeli was the old generic name of all members of the umbilicata-group – until that time only the small flowering Ophrys umbilicataOphrys bucephala had – compared to Ophrys umbilicata in their description – a bigger flower, a narrower and also narrower pointed lip, a relative small, shallow stigmatic cavitya whitish-green perianth, more flowers, the middle lobe was almost globular, and had a red base, with green eyes with a black centre.

The three umbilicata-members together: O.umbilicata, O.bucephala, O.attica or umbilicata var. attica.

The three umbilicata-members together: O.umbilicata, O.bucephala, O.attica or umbilicata var. attica.

HUNTING: But the only habitat where I found in recent years a supposedly ‘real’ Ophrys bucephala was at the Andissa corner on the road to Sigri/Eressos. This corner is important because here Ophrys lesbis is flowering together with O. fusca var. lindia, O. sicula, O. bucephala and later on a few varieties of the oestrifera-family & Orchis collina & sancta – despite the nearby farmer who burns this habitat every winter for his goats & sheep so they have something to eat in spring, when the orchids are there… Other orchid researchers who visited this Andissa habitat were never sure whether it was O. bucephala or O. umbilicata which was flowering here; there were ‘umbilicata’s’ with pink & green sepals & petals around. But when I visited this habitat earlier this year at the end of March there was another ‘strange brew’ to be seen: Ophrys umbilicata subsp. latilabris (the wide lipped Naval Orchid) of B. & H. BAUMANN with ‘wider sepals, a wide yellow bordered, less convex lip with an upwards bent border at the middle lobe, endemic in Israel’.

O. bucephala 23-04-11 #021 & O. bucephala var. latilabris, Andissa corner 28-03-14 #049 © Jan van Lent

O. bucephala 23-04-11 #021 & O. bucephala var. latilabris, Andissa corner 28-03-14 #049

HABITAT: So if I look at the bucephala’s I photographed in recent years on this Andissa habitat then there are a few ‘things’ which didn’t fit in with a ‘real – (as described by GÖLZ & REINHARD) – Ophrys bucephala. First there is the size of the flower and the lip, 12-15.5mm long, 15-19mm wide; but BAUMANN thought it was only 10-12.5 long, 10-14 wide, DELFORGE measured 7-12.5mm x 8.5-15mm (when spread) and that is what I also measured: I never found a bigger lip than Delforge did. So O. bucephala is only a slightly bigger brother of O. umbilicata or have they maybe shrunk in the last 25 years due to what, sour rain, or hybridization with other Ophrys on this habitat?
And talking about strange brews: What do we think of O.bucephala on the second of April last year? Yes, Ophrys bucephala with a pink perianth (sepals & petals)! There goes the assumption that O.bucephala always has a green perianth…

Ophrys bucephala, Andissa © Jan van Lent 2-04-2013 #040 #042cu, #042

Ophrys bucephala, Andissa © Jan van Lent 2-04-2013 #042, #042cu, #040,

And you will think: Ah, it’s maybe an error of nature, it may have happened only once! Look at Ophrys bucephala from 22-04-2013! I was a little late (for O.bucephala) on the Andissa spot, but again: pink sepals & petals on Ophrys bucephala! And no longer lips than 10mm!

Ophrys bucephala, Andissa © Jan van Lent 22-04-2013 #037, #041, #043

Ophrys bucephala, Andissa © Jan van Lent 22-04-2013 #037, #041, #043

So up to the habitats where GÖLZ & REINHARD, BIEL and other orchid researchers found the real ‘thing’: around Plomari and Spides under Megalochori, to see if there are also pink Ophrys bucephala’s – or Israeli Ophrys latilabris for that matter.

View from the Spides slopes, © Jan van Lent 15-04-2014 #317

View from the Spides slopes, © Jan van Lent 15-04-2014 #317.

The first habitat where I found Ophrys bucephala on the southern habitats this year was at Spides, just under Megalochori on the 8th of April. There were 2 groups of O. bucephala: a ‘bush’ you see here below and a few more separate plants on the other side of the spot. But if you look at the group below and compare them with the Andissa plants they are actually (almost) the same, only Spides plants has a more stretched and orange stigmatic cavity.

Ophrys bucephala, Spides © Jan van Lent 8-04-2014 #103 & 104

Ophrys bucephala, Spides © Jan van Lent 8-04-2014 #103 & #104.

But there were no other ‘strange’ looking Ophrys bucephala around, no yellow lipborders, no pink sepals & petals. We drove further down in the direction of Plomari to spot the other habitats, and we took the track over Kato Chorio down but didn’t find any orchids at all along this track. We decided to give it another chance by driving up a track just before Melinda where last year at the beginning of February I found a lot of rosettes but no flowering orchids. But this time we had more success; at 140 meters height we found Ophrys homeri, Ophrys oestrifera s.l.. Orchis tridentata and some beautiful Ophrys bucephala! I took the measurements of two plants; the lengths of the lips were 9.3 and 12mm (Ophrys below). So only this O. bucephala just reached the measurements of GÖLZ & REINHARD from their paper of 1989: 12-15.6mm long.

Ophrys bucephala, up from Melinda, © Jan van Lent 8-04-2014 #213

Ophrys bucephala, up from Melinda, © Jan van Lent 8-04-2014 #213.

BOTTOM-LINE: So again the question arises (e.g. HENNECKE & MUNZINGER 2014 see Blog 39: ‘The Last Waltz’ http://www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=2283) if measurements and colour have any sense at all as a distinguishing mark of – in this case – Ophrys bucephala? Is an Ophrys bucephala no bucephala because its flower fails by 2 or 4 millimetres to be a ‘real’ bucephala? And of course we don’t know how different orchid researchers measure a flower – fresh or dried – do they include the appendage or not, which is the point above the side lobes from where they took their measurements? Are there any standards for measuring flowers/orchids/Ophrys? Also: does having a pink perianth instead of a green one change Ophrys bucephala into an Ophrys umbilicata?
My answer should be no, it doesn’t. But very small, medium, large and very large are maybe better ways of describing orchids, and colour always was a subjective distinguishing mark, and very difficult to standardise even with a colour chart placed into the picture as BATEMAN (2013) proposed.

Ophrys bucephala, Spides © Jan van Lent 15-04-2014 #269

Ophrys bucephala, Spides © Jan van Lent 15-04-2014 #269.

One week later I passed the Spides habitat again and still there were no ‘strange brews’ around between the Ophrys bucephala, the plants just looked more tired – maybe because of all those visiting orchidologists. Again I measured the lips of those ‘bucephala’ and came again no further than a length of 9.8 mm for the biggest lip, so all in agreement with DELFORGE (2005) measurements (7-12.5mm).
Back to the smaller, sometimes yellow bordered and equipped with pink sepals & petals Ophrys bucephala from Andissa: My conclusion could only be that they were approached by different pollinators in the north than in the south, and I do see a lot of hybrid possibilities between Ophrys bucephala and sicula, lindia, lesbis or oestrifera

Jan van Lent, Lesvos 2-12-2014

‘Strange Brew’, The Cream 1967: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3cELfFjXvY

List of orchids on the Andissa habitat during 2011-2012-2013-2014:
08-04-2011 Oph.bucephala (opening), Oph. lesbis, Orchis collina.
23-04-2011 Oph.bucephala, Orchis collina.
07-05-2011 Oph.bucephala, Oph.oestrifera, Oph.cornutula, Oph.minutula.
21-04-2012 Oph.bucephala, Oph.cornutula, Oph.lindia, Or.collina.
02-04-2013 Oph.bucephala, Oph.lindia, Oph. mammosa, Oph.lesbis, Oph.sicula, Or.collina.
22-04-2013 Oph.bucephala, Oph.cornutula, Oph.lindia, Oph.lesbis.
28-03-2014 Oph.bucephala, Oph.sicula, Oph.lindia, Oph.lesbis, Or.collina.
01-05-2014 Oph.bucephala (almost withered), Oph.oestrifera, Oph.cornutula, Oph.minutula.

39. The Ophrys umbilicata group (1), Ophrys umbilicata & Ophrys attica: ‘The Last Waltz?’

Habitat: Eftalou, Avlona beach, Alifantá, Lambou Mili.

x1) 24 mrt 10 027 BEW4 78x30cm, copy, 72dpi, O.umbilicata, Eftalou

Ophrys umbilicata, Eftalou. © Jan van Lent 24-03-2010 #027

The Ophrys umbilicata-group, on Lesvos according to Karatzá (2008):
Ophrys umbilicata: DESFONTAINES 1807 or
Ophrys umbilicata ssp. umbilicata.
Ophrys bucephala GÖLZ & REINHARD 1990 or
Ophrys umbilicata ssp. bucephala (GÖLZ & REINHARD) BIEL.
Ophrys attica: (BOISSIER & ORPHANIDES) B. D. JACKSON 1894 or
Ophrys umbilicata ssp. attica (BOISSIER & ORPHANIDES) WOOD 1983 or perhaps
Ophrys umbilicata var. attica (BOISSIER & ORPHANIDES) BUTLER 1986?

x2) 25 mrt 08 003 BEW4 20x30cm, copy, 72dpi, O.umbilicata, Eftalou

The first Ophrys umbilicata, Eftalou. © Jan van Lent 25-3-08 #003

HABITAT: In 2010 I took the last pictures of Ophrys umbilicata in the phrygana in Eftalou, so this will also be an ‘in memoriam’.  The first time I discovered this tiny and solitary specimen was on 25-3-2008, it appeared again in 2009 and danced its last ‘waltz ‘ on 24-3-2010 after a very wet winter. For four seasons now I have been looking to see if it will appear again, on the same spot or somewhere else in Eftalou. ‘Típota’ we say in Greek: nothing. Why they perished I really don’t know but a herd of horses was running and eating along this path in the winter of 2010 – 2011. And the next winter (2011) was one of the driest winters we had in years so maybe they just gave up…

Eftalou is also not the ‘normal’ habitat of Ophrys umbilicata or its family members according to ‘the books’ or even to all orchidologists who visited the island on their orchid hunt. That all those orchid researchers didn’t find Ophrys umbilicata in Eftalou is not so surprising: it’s too early for charters to the island and the north of Lesbos doesn’t have a reputation of being ‘THE’ habitat for Orchids. Even serious orchid researchers such as BIEL (1998-1999) or GÖLZ & REINHARD (1989)  who visited the island also in March never came to the north of Lesvos before the holiday season started at the end of April. And that is a pity because they missed not only Ophrys umbilicata but also Himantoglossum robertianum; Ophrys sicula; Ophrys speculum; Ophrys mammosa; Ophrys phrygia; Ophrys iricolor; Ophrys (iricolor subsp.) mesaritica; Anacamptis pyramidalis; Anacamptis (Orchis) sancta; Anacamptis (Orchis) fragrans; Anacamptis (Orchis) collina. See Blog 37: 10 years of orchid hunting in Eftalou: ‘Lay down lay down’… http://www.janvanlent.com/blog/?p=2734).

O. umbilicata, Eftalou © Jan van Lent 2008, 2009, 2010

Ophrys umbilicata, Eftalou © Jan van Lent 2008, 2009, 2010

But back to Ophrys umbilicata. The BIEL & GÖLZ & REINHARD finding lists of the Navel or Carmel Ophrys contain almost solely habitats in the south of the island, around Plomari between the 3rd of March and the first of May. The most Northern habitat where they and other orchidologists actually saw umbilicata was in the North-west; around Eressos and around Andissa. So it was at least ‘strange’ that umbilicata was flowering in Eftalou and therefore I was never sure about my identification, also because ‘my’ umbilicata had green pseudo-eyes and this was said to be a unique characteristic of Ophrys bucephala, the nearest and almost endemic family member of Ophrys umbilicata described by GÖLZ & REINHARD from Lesvos in 1990. It is not certain if Ophrys attica still exists on Lesvos, if it ever did in the first place.

Habitat Alifantá © Jan van Lent 2-01-2014 #019

Habitat Alifantá © Jan van Lent 2-01-2014 #019

HUNTING: So I went again to all the habitats where I have found members of the Umbilicata-group (Alifantá, Lambou Mili, Avlona & Andissa). Let’s begin with my favourite habitat: Alifantá. Here I found all kinds of varieties of the ‘umbilicata’ family: pink, white, green-pink, green and dark olive green perianths (sepals & petals); round, square and oval middle lobes; light brown, dark brown and red-brown coloured lips. So maybe all Ophrys had a special dancing party here? And were there maybe also hybryds or transitional forms in between?

O. umbilicata, Alifantá; O. attica, Alifantá; O. bucephala, Alifantá © Jan van Lent 2014

O. umbilicata, O. attica? & O. bucephala, all on the same Alifantá habitat
© Jan van Lent 2011, 2013, 2012

O. umbilicata, O. attica, & O. bucephala, all on the same Alifantá habitat AND on the very same day © Jan van Lent 26-03-2014

O. umbilicataO. attica? & O. bucephala, all on the same Alifantá habitat AND on the very same day © Jan van Lent 26-03-2014

Let’s first look at the described differences between the three species: Ophrys umbilicata: white or pink perianth, a short stem, thinner and shorter inflorescence than O. bucephala. A reddish-brown base. Often a yellow edge on the more globular lip as O. bucephala; the sepals are more horizontal positioned and don’t hang down as on O. attica and Obucephala; black pseudo-eyes.
Ophrys attica an olive-green perianth. Bigger and hanging wings, square lip, the dorsal sepal is longer and hangs deeper over the gynostegium than on O. umbilicata. Reddish-brown base, black pseudo-eyes.
Ophrys bucephala: has a bigger flower, narrower and also more narrow pointed lip, a relative small, not deep stigmatic cavity, a whitish-green perianth, more flowers, the medium-sized centre lobe is almost globular, red base, green eyes with black centre.

Habitat Lambou Mili, track to Aqueduct © Jan van Lent 28-02-2014 #044

Habitat Lambou Mili, track to Aqueduct © Jan van Lent 28-02-2014 #044

On the track to the aqueduct before Lambou Mili I found only light pink and almost white perianths: Ophrys umbilicata, no green petals & sepals in sight!

x5) 3x Oph. umbilicata, LMiliAqua, 72dpi 26 mrt14-1

Ophrys umbilicata, Lambou Mili, © Jan van Lent 26-03-2014.

On the Avlona habitat on the other hand, there was another party: a whole bush of O. umbilicata. But when I stepped back I almost stood on a solitary green umbilicata! Green umbilicata? ‘Zing’ I thought optimistically, Ophrys attica! And they are really flowering next to another 40cm apart? At the same time on the same habitat? That is against all biological rules isn’t it HENNECKE & MUNZINGER (2014)?*

Avlona beach (habitat on the left) © Jan van Lent 6-04-14 #050

Avlona beach (habitat on the left) © Jan van Lent 6-04-14 #050

RESEARCH:  DELFORGE (2005): ‘Although no clear-cut morphological character seems to distinguish O. attica from O. umbilicata, which has led to the frequent refusal to separate the 2 taxa, it seems that they are isolated due to their different pollinators. (Eucera spatulate for O. umbilicata & Eucera seminuda for O. attica) Nevertheless, the situation within the (vast?) contact zone needs to be investigated further.’

Avlonas beach © Jan van Lent 14-03-2014 #010 O. umbilicata & attica

Avlonas beach © Jan van Lent 14-03-2014 #010
O. umbilicata (LipL8mm) & attica (LipL10mm)

Different pollinators? So if I interpret the above photographs right I have to imagine two different bee species cozily buzzing together in the direction of the above plants: Spatulata: ‘Sorry mate, out of the way now, our flight destinations are different from here, you have to go to the green fatty one, I go to ‘my’ subtle pink lady and I warn you: don’t dare to come near my girl Semi! Seminuda: ‘Come on Spatu, don’t be such a Casanova, I don’t want to see you ‘doing it’ with your pink girls, and by the way, I like only the bigger green girls from Attica, I will never touch your coloured ladies, I don’t like their perfume!’  Like this Gents?

Interesting are also the remarks of KREUTZ (Cyprus 2005) on the occurrence of Ophrys attica on Cyprus: ‘The occurrence of Ophrys attica had been disputed for a long time, until the author and other orchid researchers, were able to identify the species at several places. Just as in Turkey, they usually occur as solitary plants. Ophrys attica does however undoubtedly occur on Cyprus. But hybrids with the species mentioned above (O.flavomarginata, lapethica, rhodia & umbilicata) were not yet found.’

So is the green Ophrys attica maybe always a solitary plant? KREUTZ (Rhodes & Karpathos 2002): ‘The species (Ophrys umbilicata) is very rare on Rhodes. With the exception of one location on the Akramitis, over and over again Ophrys umbilicata has been found as a solitary species.’

Ophrys umbilicata, Avlona beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2012 #029

Ophrys umbilicata, Avlona beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2012 #029

In Turkey, where all three species occur, according to KREUTZ (1998): ‘Ophrys attica, a species which by many authors is placed in the vicinity of Ophrys umbilicata, is mainly distinguished by the always thickset growth, the wide cylindrical inflorescence, the somewhat bigger flowers and the always green perianth.’ Kreutz didn’t mention that ‘attica’ was also a solitary plant in Turkey but he did mention that almost all authors who researched orchids in Turkey had problems to separate both taxa from each other, except of course for the colour of the perianth.

Ophrys attica is in the opinion of PEDERSEN/FAURHOLDT (2007) a synonym for Ophrys umbilicata subsp. umbilicata: ‘This subspecies exhibits a typical example of clinal variation**. In the westernmost part of its range, almost all individuals have green sepals, but further east they are gradually replaced by individuals with rose-coloured to white sepals, and in the Levant (Israel, Lebanon) such plants are by the far most frequent.’

Avlonas beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2014 O. umbilicata (LipL8mm) & attica (LipL10mm)  # 027, #011, #020.

Avlonas beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2014 #011 with left O. umbilicata # 027 (LipL8mm) & on the right O. attica? #020 (LipL10mm).

And it should be so simple: if the flowers have a pink perianth then it is Ophrys umbilicata and when they have a green perianth, a more thickset appearance and somewhat bigger flowers then they are Ophrys attica (or the bigger Ophrys bucephala). And now I have to ask myself also the question: Is Lesvos in the middle between the west and the east? Maybe it is, BUT (ANTONOPOULOS 2009): ‘in continental Greece, individuals of O.attica with pink perianth are observed’. PETROU (2011): ‘Recently, the researcher Elias Tselos found a population of about 200 individuals (of O.umbilicata subsp. umbilicata) in Aetoloakarnania (Etolia-Akarnania), growing alongside O.umbilicata subsp. attica. While it seems improbable, considering its distribution, the individuals were typical specimens.’ So actually O.umbilicata occurs next to O.attica?

And I am of course not the first one who is breaking bad over ‘umbilicata’ on Lesvos. 25 years ago, the authors of Ophrys bucephala, GÖLZ & REINHARD (1989), compared three species with each other: Oph. umbilicata, Oph. flavomarginata and Oph. bucephala. Why they used Oph. flavomarginata (= with yellow border- only on Cyprus and Israel) instead of Oph. attica for their comparison is a bit strange, but: ‘In our article from 1981 we still used the name Ophrys carmeli for this species. For that matter we often argued that O.attica and O.umbilatica are identical (The taxa difference between both is merely 5). The only one significant distinguishing mark is the colour of the perianth, which is for “attica” almost always green, for “umbilicata” in accordance with local populations – each to different percentages – mostly petal style – white to pink.’ (Translation German – English: JvL)

O. umbilicata (pink perianth), Avlona beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2014 #022

Ophrys umbilicata (pink perianth), Avlona beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2014 #022

Also BIEL (1999a) wrote – 15 years ago – about ‘umbilicata’ and ‘bucephala’ on Lesvos: ‘Based upon investigations on the orchid flora of the island of Lesvos during several years, comparing works in various areas of the Aegean region and the evaluation of relevant literature, conclusions about the taxonomy of the Ophrys scolopax s.l. and the Ophrys umbilicata-complex are given – in context with critical annotations to the actual interpretations of the “species” term in the European orchid “scene”.’
But in this and his other in-depth research of the orchids of Lesvos he not even once mentioned Ophrys attica (or Ophrys umbilicata subsp. attica). Why not? Didn’t he find them? I doubt that. Did he think they were small O.bucephala or transitions between O.bucephala and O.umbilicata? I doubt that too.

ANTONOPOULOS (2009): ‘The perianth from O. attica is usually greenish in continental Greece but, going to the east, it changes gradually into pale rose or pink’ and: ‘Although the eastern limits of the latter are unclear, it seems to have been replaced completely on the islands of the eastern Aegean by O.umbilicata’.

6 apr 14 018  O.umbilicata, Avlona beach

O. umbilicata var. attica (green perianth), Avlona beach © Jan van Lent 6-04-2014 #018

BOTTOM-LINE: But all the descriptions and all photographs of all Ophrys from all orchid researchers, orchidologists and orchid enthusiasts don’t matter anymore, we can throw them away. *HENNECKE & MUNZINGER (2014) published the REAL relevant determination data for Ophrys: 3.1) NEVER look at and photograph the first and last flower of a Ophrys, the first flower can still have frost damage, the last flower already dry-out damage; 3.2) speculum pattern should not be used in an Ophrys-determination; 3.3) the colour of the speculum and lip should not be used; 3.4) the distinguishing mark plant- and lip size should not be used; 3.5) pollinator-insects, mycorrhizal fungi, wind-drift etc. and also 3.6) Phenology and Ecology etc. can’t be used in the demarcation of their Biospecies-concept.
But there is some hope ‘What stays’: 3.7) 1. DNA-analyses, 2. Their biospecies-concept, 3. Two subspecies can’t flower on the same time on the same habitat (meadow). Then they are either two species or just varieties.
Well, I am quite silenced by their articles. So I better should be blind (never look at…) and use only my nose to distinguish the different Ophrys? Am I an insect? For what reason did ‘God’ give humans eyes? To use DNA-analyses and a biospecies-concept in the field?

Before HENNECKE & MUNZINGER published their biospecies-concept and their morphologic dendrogram the ‘challenge’ was not to separate O.umbilicata (small flowers, pink perianth) from O.bucephala (big flowers, green perianth), that should be easy enough, (well…) but to separate O.umbilicata from O.attica. But more and more I’m inclined to believe that O.umbilicata can also have a green perianth (and O.bucephala also a pink one, as I will show in PART 2 of this umbilicata story), but if this is only depending on different pollinators I don’t know. Maybe mycorrhizal fungi, wind-drift, Phenology and Ecology still have an influence on plants, orchids and also Ophrys.

So fortunately there are still ‘attica’s varieties on Lesvos, as you can see for yourself on the Alifantá and Avlona habitats. And I don’t think that Ophrys umbilicata var.attica has danced its ‘Last Waltz’, either on Lesvos or in the European orchid “scene”.

O. umbilicata Eftalou 1-4-09 #047 & O. umbilicata var. attica Alifantá 21-3-13 #188

O. umbilicata Eftalou 1-4-09 #047 & O. umbilicata var. attica Alifantá 21-3-13 #188

Jan van Lent, Lesvos11-10-2014.

‘The Last Waltz’, The Band (1976): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCSzL5-SPHM

**clinal variation: a continuous variation in form between members of a species having a wide variable geographical or ecological range.