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

O. classica was first described by Devillers-Terschuren and Devillers from Monte Argentaria in 2000.  It's   a member of the 12 strong O. exaltata group whose name literally means "of the fleet" and refers to the   species preference for coastal habitats.   

This Ophrys is an Italian endemic with a range from the Grosetto area of southern Tuscany in the north to   the Latium region south of Rome. O. classica is at its most frequent in Monte Argentaria and its in this area   in  particular that its range  overlaps with several other closely related species that can cause a  great deal   of difficulty with identification.  

There are in fact three other species with which it may be found in flower concurrentlyO. argentaria,   O.tarquinia  and the  ubiquitous O. sphegodes.  All these species have individual distinguishing features but   years of ingression can  make identification  a  painstaking business where the  "balance  of   probabilities"   is  often resorted to.

O. classica is however a large flowered species and this feature together with the following characteristics   are typical of the species :-.  1;  Speculum pattern is usually a simple reddish/mauve H.   2;  Basal swellings   are normally well formed and hairless on the inner surface.  3; This species shows a preference for moist   environments and is seldom found far away from  the central Tyrrhenian coastline.  4;  The outer wall of the   stigmatic cavity is noticeabaly whiter and shinier than the other 3 species.