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


O. brutia was first described from Reggio de Calabria (Italy) by Delforge in 2003 and its name refers to the Province of Calabria whose ancient latin name was Brutium. It is a member of the O. sphegodes group of Ophrys but this classification is not a universally accepted position and several noted authorities prefer to group it with the morphologically similar O. incubacea.

The distribution of this species is not known with certainty but although originally thought to be restricted to Calabria in the extreme south of Italy, it would now seem that it may also be found in neighbouring Provinces and possibly even in the Abruzzo and Umbria regions. O. brutia has historically been classified within the O. sphegodes group but it also exhibits characteristics of both O. lunulata and O. incubacea. It can be somewhat variable in appearance and as has already been mentioned there is a good deal of professional disagreement amongst experts as to both its true grouping and its qualification for full species status.

O. brutia is a small flower that can often closely resemble O. incubacea but lacking as much white colouration to the stigmatic cavity walls (either internal or external). The basal field also differs in being rusty red to orange rather than the black associated with O. incubacea. The sepals are always a pale whitish green but the petals usually show greater colouration, being a shade darker and edged with a red/orange border. Basal swellings can be absent or present but in the latter instance they are not normally particularly well developed as can be the case with O. incubacea.

The pictures come from Calabria and Lecce, dating from the end of April.