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

This species was first described by Devillers-Terschuren and Devillers from Monte Argentaria, Italy in 2000. Its name means "of the western sunset" which we can only assume refers to the often reddish hues of the labellum.

Its true status as a species is a matter of some disagreement amongst experts with some believing that this species synonymous with O. sulcata. There is little doubt that despite the two species being placed in different groups they are outwardly very alike. Among the more obvious similarities are 1. flowers being very small. 2. usually exhibiting the previously mentioned specular red hues. 3. having tightly reflexed lateral lobes that give the overall labellum a cylindrical look.

The distribution of O. hespera is uncertain but is thought to be mid western Italy centred on the Grosetto region of Tuscany and Monte Argentaria in particular. Its range does not overlap significantly with many other Pseudophrys and its unlikely therefore to be confused with any other species. The only species with which it will regularly come into contact is the extremely rare O. lucifera. The clear differences in flower size, shape and colouration are sufficient to differentiate the two species but importantly, the flowering periods barely overlap, with O. hespera being significantly later (mid April to May).

It is a variable species in terms of colouration and speculum pattern but the large stigmatic cavity and long  central groove through the lip are generally consistent features. The photographs are all from Monte Argentaria and date from the first week of May.