22. Ophrys iricolor: ‘All Day and all of the Night’.

Habitat: Alifantá & Larisos corner.

Ophrys iricolor, Alifantá, © Jan van Lent 10-4-13 #111 & #113.

Ophrys iricolor Desfontaines 1807 
The Ophrys iricolor group, on Lesvos: O. iricolor & O. mesaritica.

HUNTING: It’s not so long ago that Ophrys iricolor was hunted down for the first time on Lesvos; it was in 1978 and P.Peisl and H.R. Reinhard were the hunters.The thing is that it is almost impossible to miss Ophrys iricolor when you’re out there hunting. It’s big (the lip is between 16 and 25mm), the blue colour on the lip so loud and shiny that even if you want to ignore it, it still attracts you eye. And actually you want to ignore it because IF you want to be sure it’s Ophrys iricolor you have to turn it upside down to see the colour of its bottom (see Blog 3 Ophrys mesaritica: ‘Bottoms Up’), and that is a dangerous thing to do because ‘normally’ Ophrys iricolor has only two flowers on the stem so you don’t want to break one off. Stems with 4 or 5 flowers are seen rarely on Lesvos and then it maybe indicates that its predecessor and sister species Ophrys mesaritica is or was around in the neighbourhood. Or is it ‘politically’ more correct to say that the pollinator of O. mesaritica, Andrena nigroaenea, is maybe still around in April on the same habitat? Or maybe it just IS a very late O. mesaritica with the looks of O. iricolor?In other words: is it an Ophrys in disguise?

Ophrys iricolor? Larisos corner. © Jan van Lent 21-3-13 #099.

RESEARCH: Questions, questions, questions. So let’s first read in the books the description of the colour of the underside of the iricolor lip: PETROU: crimson; DELFORGE: entirely purple; ANTONOPOULOS: purple; PEDERSEN/FAURHOLDT: wine-red; KRETZSCHMAR: brilliant red ‘rainbow colours’; BAUMANN: brown-red; SUNDERMANN: brownish; KARATZA: red; KREUTZ: intense reddish to reddish brown. Does this mean that everybody sees something different or describes something different? And I have to say that after turning around hundreds of mesaritica and iricolor I also don’t see (it) clearly anymore. So let’s look at the next photographs of an Ophrys iricolor with an almost white bottom. Or is this again a very late O. mesaritica in a very early season? And the no’s 236, 242 & 241 are in my opinion also O. mesaritica but with a blood-red ‘iricolor’ bottom. If this is the case than maybe O. mesaritica is not only a very early taxon but it can flower also until mid-April.

Ophrys mesaritica? Alifantá, © Jan van Lent 10-4-13 #217 & #218

But let’s see what my latest acquisition about Greek orchids (PETROU et al 2011) has to say about the lip (or labellum) of Ophrys iricolor: ‘Lip constricted at its base, nodding to, usually, horizontal, broadly rhomboidal, velvety, tri-lobed, dark reddish-black; lateral lobes rounded, reaching the tip of the median, which is short and bi-lobed. Speculum almost black, with shiny mauve-blue iridescent spots and a shiny W-shaped edge; it is divided in two by a vertical black line, and reaches the middle of the lip. FLOWERING: from February to April.’

Ophrys mesaritica: lip pendant, constricted at its base, rhomboidal, velvety, tri-lobed, dark brown-black, lateral lobes rounded, median considerably longer and slightly bi-lobed. Speculum brown-black, with dull, grey blue iridescent spots and a grey-blue W-shaped edge; it is divided in two by a vertical black line, and exceeds the middle of the lip…..Underside of the lip is whitish-green with red edges. FLOWERING: from December to February (March).

Ophrys mesaritica? Alifantá, © Jan van Lent 10-4-13 #235, 241, 242.

But this season a group of Ophrys iricolor felt the need to buy a new speculum in the Pseudophrys shop, to make the iricolor-group a little bit more interesting. Or is this flushing red colour of the speculum an indication that they are ashamed that I always look at their bottoms? Are they shy? Then I suggest that I (and everybody else) should leave the undersides of iricolor and mesaritica in peace, because maybe it doesn’t say anything about the difference between the two sister species, and you can’t tell them apart (on Lesvos) by looking at their bottoms.

Ophrys iricolor? Larisos corner. © Jan van Lent 21-3-13 #059

But the question remains why those Ophrys mesaritica/iricolor suddenly have a red speculum this year at the Larisos corner (see Blog 3 Ophrys mesaritica: ‘Bottoms Up’).
Can this be by reason of pollinator shift? In other words: Is here another pollinating Andrena bee involved? This will be another nice subject for a study of scholars like PHILIPP M. SCHLÜTER, PAULO M. RUAS, GUDRUN KOHL, CLAUDETE F. RUAS, TOD F. STUESSY and HANNES F. PAULUS. Because in their study from 2009: Genetic patterns and pollination in Ophrys iricolor and O. mesaritica (Orchidaceae): sympatric* evolution by pollinator shift, they declared: ‘Ophrys iricolor and O. mesaritica are a pair of morphologically similar, closely related sexually deceptive orchids from the eastern Mediterranean. Ophrys iricolor is known to be pollinated by Andrena morio males and the specific pollinator of Ophrys mesaritica is determined as Andrena nigroaenea. Amplified fragment length polymorphism revealed O. iricolor and O. mesaritica to be genetically intermixed on the whole, although populations of O. iricolor and O. mesaritica in geographical proximity are strongly differentiated, suggesting that specific pollinators locally differentiate these taxa. Based on the available biological data and the system of pollinator attraction operative in Ophrys, we hypothesize that O. mesaritica may have arisen from O. iricolor by pollinator shift and that this is more probable than scenarios invoking hybridization as a result of mispollination by rare, non-specific flower visitors or specifically attracted insects.’

Ophrys iricolor? Larisos corner. © Jan van Lent 21-3-13 #069

Okay, but then we read also Shuqing Xu, Philipp M. Schlüter, and Florian P. Schiestl  2011: ‘Pollinator-Driven Speciation in Sexually Deceptive Orchids’.
‘In our metastudy, we did not include floral colour, because most descriptions of floral coloration are based on observations by human eyes and not on insect vision models. After the pollinator has landed on a flower, floral morphology such as labellum shape, size, and texture may have a strong influence on pollinator behaviour. In orchids, precisely removing and delivering pollinia is highly dependent on the match of shape and/or size of the pollinators’ body and the floral labellum. Besides floral scent, floral phenology* and floral morphology* may also play a role in floral isolation among closely related species. Some species pairs show no overlap in flowering time in sympatry*, (e.g., O. iricolor and O.mesaritica on Crete). Among such species pairs, floral phenology may act as a strong reproductive barrier. However, as most closely related species pairs (90%) of sexually deceptive orchids do overlap in their flowering times to a certain degree, floral phenology alone is usually not the primary reproductive barrier. Differences in floral labellum length between closely related species pairs may contribute to mechanical reproductive isolation as well.’

Ophrys iricolor? Larisos corner. © Jan van Lent 21-3-13 #071

BOTTOM-LINE: I think that the pollinator bees of orchids and especially the Andrena bees of the Pseudophrys-group can be sexually very, very deceptive! In other words: they are as perfidious as human beings and they commit adultery all day and all of the night! Maybe that’s why those Ophrys are flushing…

Ophrys iricolor, Larisos corner © Jan van Lent 21-3-13 #102

Jan van Lent, Lesvos 24-4-2013.

The Kinks: ‘All Day and All of the Night’.

*Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation). In the scientific literature on ecology, the term is used more generally to indicate the time frame for any seasonal biological phenomena, including the dates of last appearance (e.g., the seasonal phenology of a species may be from April through September). (Source: Wikipedia.)

*Morphology is the study of the (form or shape) of an organism or part thereof. Morphology is a branch of life science dealing with the study of gross structure of an organism or Taxon and its component parts. (Source: Wikipedia.)

*Sympatry: In biology, two species or populations are considered sympatric when they exist in the same geographic area and thus regularly encounter one another. (Source: Wikipedia.)

21. Ophrys cinereophila: ‘Not Fade Away’.

Habitat: above Alifantá.

Ophrys cinereophila, Alifantá. © Jan van Lent 21-03-13 #113

Ophrys (fusca ssp.) cinereophila H.F. Paulus & Gack, 1998
The fusca group, on Lesvos also:
Ophrys sancti-isidorii, Ophrys leucadica, Ophrys calocaerina.

Ophrys cinereophila, Alifantá. © Jan van Lent 21-03-13 #207

HUNTING: Well, what I have to do to ‘shoot’ O. cinereophila is not actually hunting!
I just have to drive towards Mytilini and take the first exit to Alifantá because I can only find Ophrys cinereophila there, above Alifantá and not in large stands but only a few. BIEL (1998) described this plant with the very tiny flowers from a few more habitats on Lesvos like Moria, Skopelos, Pigí and above Mytilini. But the city of Mytilini made a new road, connecting the ‘highway’ to Mytilini and the east coast, actually to the electricity power plant. But on this new road there is nowadays a gypsy camp on the habitat described by BIEL (MD.52.98) so I couldn’t check that one out. KARATZÁ (2008) described this Small Flowered Brown Ophrys from a lot of places in the east (in the triangle between N. Kidoníes, Thermí and Pigí), in the deep south (between Plomári – Mágeiras and Tárti) and west from Mytilíni (Mória, Alifantá, Loutrá). MANNING found Ophrys cinereophila at Andissa, Pigi, Loutra, Anemomilos and the Koumari hills. S. & K. HERTEL (2005) found just 4 plants and 1 hybrid on Lesvos near Mytilini (Alifantá?), but 20 plants on Chios and not one on Samos or Ikaria.

Ophrys cinereophila, Alifantá. © Jan van Lent 21-03-13 #138

RESEARCH: Let’s see how the names and authors of this ‘friend of the ash coloured’ changed through the last 30 years.
1980: SUNDERMANN (Europe). No cinereophila in sight in 1980: only O. fusca with iricolor, omegaifera, pallida and atlantica.
1998: Ophrys cinereophila is described in Jour. Eur. Orch by PAULUS & GACK.
Also BIEL (Lesvos 1998) already differentiated between Ophrys cinereophila-fusca, flavipes-fusca, blithopertha-fusca and O.attaviria in his essay ‘Die Orchideenflora der Insel Lesvos’, which he published (by chance?) in the same issue of Jour. Eur. Orch. as the article of PAULUS & GACK (1998) in which they described Ophrys cinereophila.
KREUTZ (Turkey 1998 – from the same year) instantly made a remark about Ophrys cinereophila H.F. Paulus & Gack 1998 about getting confused between Ophrys funerea and Ophrys cinereophila but: ‘According to Paulus & Gack (1995) O. funerea is a clearly defined species, which occurs only on Corsica and Sardinia’.
2001: The ANDERSONS (Lesvos), famous (or notorious) for their walking books, didn’t mentioned Ophrys cinereophila in their booklet ‘Orchids Of Lesvos’, they only mentioned the ‘sombre bee orchid’ Ophrys fusca, flowering from the first week of February until the second week of April. But: ‘On Lesvos, some of the challenges within the genus Ophrys include distinguishing O. attaviria, O. sitiaca and O. fuscain the Ophrys fusca group. Yeah, can we go back to those times when the names of orchids were simple, well defined and understandable…
2002: KREUTZ (Rhodos, Karpathos, 2002). Large stands of Ophrys cinereophila.
2004: KREUTZ (Cyprus 2004). Large stands and many habitats of Ophrys cinereophila (synonym: O. fusca ssp. cinereophila (H.F. Paulus & Gack 1998) N. Faurholdt 2002. Faurholdt? What does he has to do with Ophrys cinereophila? Ah, he was the great inventor in 2002 of ‘fusca ssp.’ between Ophrys and cinereophila, eight letters which really make the difference…
KRETZSCHMAR ET AL. (Crete & Dodecanese, 2004): Ophrys cinereophila is common on all the islands.
2005: DELFORGE* (Europe North Africa & the Middle East). Ophrys cinereophila H.F. Paulus & Gack. And he made a note: ‘The more western reports of O. cinereophila (Peloponnese, Gulf of Corinth, Ionian Islands) often refer to O. perpusilla or a related taxon. Plants very similar to O. cinereophila but identified with difficulty as O. fabrella flower also in the Balearics.’
2006: BAUMANN ET AL. (Europe). I even don’t have to look it up; it certainly is Ophrys fusca ssp. cinereophila Paulus & Gack. And yes it is. Synonyms: O.cinereophila and O.thriptiensis. And they specified the area where it grows: Ionian Islands, the South of Greece, the South-Aegean, Crete, southwest Turkey and Cyprus. And actually those are the places where they grow in ‘large stands’.

Ophrys cinereophila, Alifantá © Jan van Lent 11-04-12 #422

2007: PEDERSEN H./FAURHOLDT N. (Europe). Also here I don’t have to look it up because KREUTZ 2004 had already this synonym for Ophrys cinereophila: Ophrys fusca ssp. cinereophila (H.F. Paulus & Gack 1998) N. Faurholdt 2002. ‘The distribution is eastern Mediterranean, but insufficiently known, as this plant was not recognised systematically until 1998. Reliable records exist from parts of mainland Greece, a number of Aegean islands, Cyprus, Syria and areas in western Anatolia. Personally, we have seen subsp. cinereophila in Chios, Crete, Rhodes, Samos and Cyprus.’
I know that they also visited the island so I can make only one conclusion: they couldn’t find Ophrys cinereophila on Lesvos…
2008: DELFORGE (Samos 2008) writes that O. cinereophila is a very local taxon on Samos and that it is the first mention for Samos of this Ophrys.
2009: ANTONOPOULOS (Greece). Ophrys cinereophila H.F. Paulus & Gack, 1998. In their schematic drawing of Greece everything is green in the Aegean, except Lesvos (Limnos & Tasos). ‘This species is found in the Cyclades, Dodecanese, east Aegean islands and on Crete; it also exists on Evvia. In central mainland Greece and the Peloponnese its distribution is unclear since it intermixes with the similar appearing Ophrys perpusilla.’ 

Ophrys cinereophila or perpusilla? Alifantá © Jan van Lent 11-04-12 #423

2010: DEVILLERS ET AL. (Lesvos): ‘In the early season of 2010, we (FB, LD) found only one plant in bloom, again in the same area, on 8 April………..Both in 1990 and in 2010, we found around the Olympos massif plants that had flowers of similar size to those of 0. cinereophila but were not entirely characteristic of the species. They were in mixed stations with other plants of the 0. fusca complex in the western periphery of the massif, above Achladeri (FB, LD, 11 April 2010), and on the northern slopes of the massif below Agiasos (PD, JDT, 13 April 1990). We have too few documents to allocate them.’
2011: PETROU ET AL.* (Greece). I’m always a little bit afraid to look in the register of their book (which I really like) because you never know which orchid became in the meantime another genus (see Blog 19 & 20). I’m lucky this time, Ophrys cinereophila is in their opinion Ophrys fusca subsp. cinereophila (Paulus & Gack) Faurholdt. DISTRIBUTION: ‘A taxon of the eastern Mediterranean, distributed from Greece to Syria(well, I hope so with this civil war going on there); it occurs in central Greece, The Cyclades, the Dodecanese and Crete.’
2012: TAYLOR (Chios). Ophrys cinereophila Paulus & Gack is widespread and frequent throughout Chios.

Ophrys cinereophila, Alifantá © Jan van Lent 21-03-13 #209

BOTTOM-LINE: I think that Ophrys cinereophila had and has a hard life on Lesvos. Up from Alifantá I found since 2010 maybe 20 plants, this year 6 plants, and that is really not the same as ‘large stands’, or ‘frequent’ from the other Aegean islands. So I suppose that Lesvos is the most northern Aegean island where O. cinereophila exist. And this directly throws up the question: does Ophrys perpusilla also exist on the northern Aegean islands instead of or together (Lesvos) with Ophrys cinereophila? Or is Ophrys cinereophila slowly, slowly fading away from Lesvos?

Jan van Lent, Lesvos, 2-4-2013

Not Fade Away, Rolling Stones 1964.

Or the original song by Buddy Holly & The Crickets 1958.

Ophrys cinereophila, Alifantá © Jan van Lent 21-03-13 #238

*DELFORGE and PETROU ET AL. noted in their list of synonyms: O.cinereophila-fusca’ Paulus & Gack nom. prov.! Nom. prov. stands for ‘nomen provisorium’: a temporary name. PETROU: ‘A name that has not been effectively published, but is used provisionally by many people when referring to a taxon, until the correct name is defined’. Well, the correct ‘official’ name is published in IPNI[1] and KEW’s WCSP[2]:

Ophrys cinereophila H.F. Paulus & Gack 1998 is a basionym[3] of:
Orchidaceae Ophrys fusca Link subsp. cinereophila (Paulus & Gack) Faurh. Orchidee (Hamburg) 53(3): 345 (2002). Faurh = Faurholdt. N., because he put fusca and subsp. in between Ophrys and cinereophila.
And a basionym of: Orchidaceae Ophrys subfusca (Rchb.f.) Hausskn. subsp. cinereophila (Paulus & Gack) Kreutz Orchidee (Hamburg) 57(1): 102. 2006  Kreutz = C.A.J. Kreutz, because he put ‘sub’ before fusca.

It’s sometimes hard work to get your name (as author) behind an orchid…

[1] IPNI: The International Plant Names Index, Kew Gardens, England. (www.ipni.org)

[2] WCSP: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, (http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/home.do)

[3] Basionym: the first name published in association with a type, forming the foundation of a new nomenclatural combination.