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Ophrys medea x untchjii

O. medea was first described from the island of Cres, Croatia by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2004 and is a member of the O. tetraloniae group of Ophrys. It is named after Medea, the princess of Colchis in Greek mythology. O. untchjii is also a member of this group having first been formally recognized in 1907.

Both these species are thought to be endemic to Croatia, having limited distributions in Istria and the larger islands of the Quarnero archipelago. O. untchjii may also be found in localized areas of the Dalmation coast around Split. These are the earliest of the Croatian fuciflorid species to flower, coming into bloom in May and mid April respectively, at least two weeks before O. dinarica and O. tetraloniae. Neither species is uncommon and they share similar habitat requirements, being found in short grassland and abandoned terraces on most suitable calcareous substrates, particularly those with a moisture retentive character.

In Istria all three Tetraloniae group species can be found growing in close association and hybridization is therefore widespread and identification often complicated. The most common of these hybrids is O. medea x O. untchjii , which despite a degree of variability, most characteristically features white or pink sepals, more or less flushed with green.

The overall plant seems to inherit a high level of hybrid vigour and is usually a tall, robust plant with none of the slenderness of O. medea. This is a handsome orchid, very reminiscent of the Rhodes speciality O. haliaThe pictures date from the first and second weeks of May.