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Ophrys forestieri

O. forestieri was first described from Bouches-du-Rhone, France by Reichenbach in 1851 and was named in honour of the French botanist De Forestier. This species, along with the other early flowering Pseudophrys of Southern France has however been the subject of much recent study, ultimately resulting in a 2006 paper to the Bulletin des Naturalistes Belges by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren.

This paper was met with a measure of disagreement amongst the experts, not simply regarding how these species should be split and positioned but also concerning geographic distributions. What follows therefore  must be regarded as an interpretation only.  O. delforgei  emerged from the aforementioned  study as a consequence of the split of O. forestieri into two separate species, O. delforgei being the smaller flowered taxon and the other being the larger flowered, which retained the name of O. forestieri.  In the south of France at least, this latter species now corresponds with the Ophrys formally regarded as the widespread Mediterranean orchid O. lupercalis. As far as is known the prescence of O. lupercalis further east is not in question,  though quite where its range now starts and finishes is uncertain.

O. forestieri is now included in the O. obaesa group and thought to be closely related to both O. sulcata and O. vasconica. It is a fairly robust, tall stemmed plant with stalked flowers appearing at short intervals towards the top of the stem. The flowers are large and usually present a more colourful appearance than other Pseudorchis with which it can often grow, this impression is created by the normally wide yellow margin and reddish tones that permeate the speculum. O. forestieri is an early flowerer and as was the case with the plants illustrated here, be in full flower by the middle of March. The pictures come from the Marseille region of Southern France and also from populations on the central coast of Spain which cannot as yet be confirmed as being part of this species newly defined distribution.