John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys bombyliflora
 

This tiny Ophrys belongs to the O. tenthredenifera group, but unusually within that grouping, is somewhat drab and inconspicuous. It was first described by Link from the Algarve, Portugal in 1800 and its name literally means "bee flower", its common name being the Bumble Bee Orchid.

In Greece it's commonly known as "arkoudaki" which translates to "little bear". This seems an appropriate  name for an orchid that really can resemble a tiny teddy bear when viewed in close up. O. bombyliflora is not a particularly variable orchid and unlikely to be confused with other orchid species, though as can be seen from the final three pictures, hybrids are not uncommon, particularly so with other members of the O. tenthredenifera group.

This is a widespread  species that can be found throughout most of the Mediterranean from France (where it's a rarity) to Anatolia and has also been reported from the Canary Islands. It can occur in huge colonies and this is due in no small part to its ability to reproduce vegetatively. Unusually amongst Ophrys, it produces tubers at the end of a stalk, forming as many as six in a growing season and these eventually create a tangled underground mass of roots and bulbs.

O. bombyliflora prefers alkaline substrates but otherwise tolerates a range of habitat conditions from arid to damp and full sun to heavy shade where it will usually be found in flower from mid March through to May.

The pictures are from Spain, Rhodes and Sicily, dating from early April.




 The following pictures are from Sicily and depict hybrid plants from a large "swarm" found in the south east of the island.  They are crosses with O. grandiflora
 but interestingly , no plants of either parent species could be located nearby.