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Ophrys astarte

O. astarte was first described from Cyprus by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2012 having long been  known as the Cypriot variety of the widespread Greek endemic O. attica.

In late March, 2012 Messrs Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren undertook an investigation into the Ophrys of Cyprus which when published was entitled "Ophrys of Cyprus. Diagnostic Characters, Relationships and Biogeography". This study concentrated on three main groups, umbilicata, mammosa and bornmuelleri, putting forward the view that several of the non endemic species existing in Cyprus exhibited features and characteristics differing from populations elsewhere. Three species in particular were highlighted, O. attica (possibly also plants previously considered to be O. rhodia) has now been reclassified as O. astarte. Plants of the mammosa group thought to be O. hystera do not conform to the Greek type but have not yet been  renamed. Finally O. bornmuelleri  has been separated and renamed O. aphrodite.

The differences noted in all these species were not large and simple morphological inspection wouldn't easily reveal significant dissimilarities. The report was very much informed by the fact that Cyprus is considered some five times more isolated than either Crete or Rhodes and that consequently the virtually non existent external gene flow to non endemic species such as O. attica must inevitably result in eventual speciation.

O. astarte is thus a Cypriot endemic and one of the three O. umbilicata group members to grow there, it is however only O. flavomarginata that really creates any identity confusion. This latter species has larger, broader flowers and a very much more pronounced yellow margin around the lip.  The illustrations date from the beginning of March.