John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys balearica


O. balearica was first described from Mallorca by Delforge in 1990 and is a member of the ten strong O. bertolonii group of Ophrys. As its name suggests, it is endemic to the Balearic archipelago where it can be found on all four main islands.

This species is not uncommon though rarely growing in large numbers, most typically being found in small, loose colonies where it occupies clear areas amongst garrigue, abandoned terraces and open pinewoods. It prefers a full sun position, invariably on calcareous soils and with little competitive vegetation. It can be found in flower as early as mid March though more typically early April and is noted for enjoying a long flowering period which can see it still blooming in June.

O. balearica is not easily confused with any other orchid likely to be encountered in the Balearics as its the only O. bertolonii group Ophrys in the islands. It is however a remarkably variable species, most particularly in respect of its lip which can vary greatly in terms of its shape, pilosity, colouration and markings. The lip may be entire but unusually for its group, is most frequently either discreetly or significantly three lobed and in rare cases there may even be basal swellings present. Colouration ranges from reddish brown to jet black and the speculum which is generally shield shaped can be either red or steely blue, with or without white lining. As can be seen from the illustrations, pilosity ranges from a modest uniform hair covering to positively shaggy.  
  
The pictures come from Mallorca and date from the first week of April.