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

O. flammeola
was first formally described by Delforge in the year 2000 but controversy followed as a number of fellow botanists felt that Delforge had to some extent merely finalised work already done by Paulus and Gack as far back as 1990, when the plant had been described as O. florentina-fusca. Delforge himself did not accept that he was reporting the same plant and in 2004 went on to describe a further species as being the orchid which Paulus and Gack had researched. He named this O. gackiae in recognition of their work but again there were those who felt this was simply adding insult to injury and were happy to say so publicly. This is a very short precis of the story and these authors have no comment or view on the events other than they serve to illustrate the strength of professional feeling that can be awoken by perceived species poaching !      

O. flammeola is certainly the commonest of the Sicilian endemic yellow Pseudophrys and in suitably alkaline habitat can often be abundant over a large area. The species is probably of hybrid origin between O. lutea and O. fusca sl. and as is usual with such Ophrys, demonstrates a high degree of natural variation. Its appearance can exhibit characteristics of both progenitors, but sometimes favours one above the other. The first photo depicts a flower that very clearly reveals its O. lutea heritage whereas photo 4 has a closer affinity with O. fusca.  

This species is large flowered and characteristically has long petals and sepals with a longish middle lobe and shorter lateral lobes that are separated by higher and more open sinuses than either O. archimedea or O. numida. The longitudinal prominences and central grove can be conspicuous.