|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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|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.