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


O. cornutula
was first described by Paulus from Rhodes in 2001 and its name refers to its diminutive size and this is indeed a very small flower.  It's a member of the large O. oestrifera  group with a range overlaping with several other of the groups species, particularly within the Aegean basin.

Its tiny stature is the most significant identification feature although this characteristic is shared with the small flowered variety of O. cerastes referred to as O. cerastes v miniscula. This latter taxon is the subject of considerable argument as to its formal varietal status with many authorities regarding it as simply an occasional and naturally occurring miniaturization.

O. cornutula is a relatively spindly, lax-flowered plant but may nonetheless carry an inflorescence of up to 15 flowers and this can be regarded as a further key distinguishing feature. O. cerastes is much fewer flowered and a decidedly more robust looking plant. Sepals are typically triangular and rearward pointing but this is far from being diagnostic. It should always be borne in mind that its widespread distribution brings it within the range, not just of O. cerastes but also O. cetoO. crassicornis and several other of the Aegean's island specialities,  all of which may contribute to intermediate populations.

One of this species more consistent features is the speculum which is complex, gaudy and can often cover a large area of the median lobe. It's an early flowerer and can appear in bloom during the first weeks of March in a good year. The photographs are from Mount Hymettus and Rhodes, dating from the last week of March.


















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