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


O. biscutella  was first described by Danesch and Danesch from the Italian province of Foggia in 1970. Its   name refers to the speculum which usually (though by no means always) displays two separated and vaguely  triangular, shield like markings.

Its a member of the 13 strong O. argolicagroup and endemic to Italy, where it can be found along the Adriatic coast and hinterland, primarily Puglia and particularly the Gargano peninsula. Although somewhat local, it is by no means uncommon and can sometimes be found in large numbers in its favoured sites.

Identification is reasonably straightforward, particularly as its restricted range does not significantly overlap with that of any O. argolica group members. Neither is it easily confused with other of the regions Ophrys. It is however an enthusiastic gene sharer and hybridization occurs commonly. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Gargano where O. biscutella grows alongside a large variety of other Ophrys species and where it readily avails itself of the consequent opportunities for cross breeding. The range of resultant intermediates can often be astonishing and offer a testing challenge in terms of identification.

The road from Monte Sant'Angelo south westwards towards the Monastry is bordered  by many small fields  and one of these is home to many of the area's species. Hybridization has progressed to the point where  locating the original pure parents can be all but impossible. O. biscutella, O. bertoloniiformisO. neglecta,  O. bertolonii, O. apulica, O. incubacea, O. garganica and O. promontorii  have all contributed to a hybrid swarm of epic proportions.

The photos are all from Gargano and bordering areas of Puglia. They date from the first week of May.     


The following photos depict hybrids with :- O. fuciflora ( 1 and 2 ) , O. bertolonii ( 3 ) and O. bertoloniiformis ( 4, 5 and 6 ).