John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys fuciflora
 
O. fuciflora was first described from Switzerland in 1770 and its common name is the Late Spider  Orchid despite the fact that its name "fuci-flora" literally means a flower shaped like a bee.

This species is a familiar plant to those who travel to western Europe in search of orchids but it is  however an Ophrys that can be extremely difficult to identify with certainty due to the large number of  similar  species that have been recognized in recent years. The O. fuciflora and O. tetraloniae groups in  particular contain numerous members that may easily be confused with this Ophrys and the situation is often  further complicated by genetic introgression which frequently creates hybrid populations that mimic pure  species of unrelated fuciflorids

It is however possible to ensure  a  confident  identification by seeking out the orchid  in southern England  where there are no similar species with which to confuse it !  O. fuciflora is however extremely rare in the  UK and can be found in just a handful of sites in the south east of the country.  A similar situation existed in  Holland until recently but it is now almost certainly extinct there.    

O. fuciflora  has  a  distinctive and elegant look about it and this is largely due to the spreading "skirt" of  the lower median lobe margins. This is nicely depicted in several of the photos. This species is never  three-lobed and importantly the sub marginal hairs are rarely complete, being at their heaviest around  the shoulders. 

The photos are from southern France, Gargano and Tuscany and all date from the month of May.   




 The following pictures are all from Gargano and depict some interesting plants.  The first and second examples exhibit highly unusual lip markings 
 whilst the third is a hybrid and can be fairly confidently linked with O. biscutella.