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

This species is a member of the O. omegaifera group with a range that's largely restricted to the   central Aegean from the Cyclades in the north west to Samos and Paros in the south east. As with   many of the scarcer Ophrys it has an outpost on Crete.

Its range is a contracted version of O. omegaifera itself and consequently the two species may   regularly come into contact, thereby creating the real possibility of misidentification. The two are morphologically very similar, O. basilissa is however a larger plant with larger flowers. On Chios (where these photographs were taken), it would appear that O. basilissa is a later flowerer than O. omegaifera, though this conflicts with at least one respected orchid authority which asserts that the two species flower concurrently or perhaps even a reverse of the Chios situation. The O. omegaifera group have been the subject of considerable study in recent years and several new species have been identified. The grouping has become somewhat complicated and it's suspected, more change will follow over the coming years.

It was noted with the plants from Chios that there is a narrow yellow/brown margin on the lobe   which was not apparent on O. omegaifera  -  whether this is diagnostic or merely a local variation   is not known.
 
O. basilissa will thrive in full sun but seems equally happy in open pine woods, as was the case with   the plants illustrated here. This position under the pines is why the flowers illustrated are so   heavily encrusted with the infamous Aegean pine pollen.  







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