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)