John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys caloptera
O. caloptera was first named as such and described from the the Rhone Valley of France by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2006, although it had long been known as a late flowering (May) population of the widespread O. passionis.

This latter species, together with O. arachnitiformis and their various recognized forms have been the subject of much study over the last decade, but despite this, the experts have reached little consensus as to an accurate nomenclature and species positioning for these Spring flowering Ophrys of southern France and northern Spain. Given that the experts are unable to reach much clear unanimity, it is difficult for this site to present a precise definition of the species involved and consequently untill the position becomes clearer,  O. passionis, O. caloptera and O. occidentalis are regarded as the most widely accepted individual taxons capable of being visually and geographically separated. The position is however unsatisfactory and requires examination at a genetic level rather than opinions ( no matter how highly respected ) that have been based  on largely morphological and distribution data.

O. caloptera remains in the O. incubacea group whereas O. passionis (the original early flowering wave) has been moved to the O. exaltata group. These species are extremely similar in appearance and not easily separated from one another, other than by the fact that O. caloptera is a generally stronger growing, more robust plant in all its parts. Most importantly however, flowering does not normally commence untill late April or early May, by which time O. passionis could have already been in bloom for over a month.

The various studies do not  make it easy to draw any firm conclusions regarding the distribution lines of the three species and so until things become clearer we will limit a description of the range as being southern France and northern Spain. The pictures here come from the Cevenne and date from the second week of May.