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

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.

This species is thought to be endemic to Croatia, having a limited distribution in Istria and the larger islands of the Quarnero archipelago. It is the third of the Croatian fuciflorid species to flower, coming into bloom in May, at least two weeks after O. untchjii and the newly described O. istriensis, perhaps a week before O. dinarica and O. tetraloniae. It is not an uncommon species, being found in short grassland and abandoned terraces on most suitable calcareous substrates, particularly those with a moisture retentive character.

O. medea will frequently be found growing alongside the other fuciflorid species and hybridization is therefore widespread and identification often complicated. The most characteristic feature of this Ophrys is the white or pink perianth, a feature common in O. tetraloniae but rare in O. untchjii. The combination of a white/pink perianth and a multi-toothed appendage (as opposed to the distinctly three toothed version exhibited by O. tetraloniae) is a good diagnostic indicator. Separating O. medea from the uncommon pink sepalled variety of O. untchjii can be difficult.

Unlike O. untchjii, this is a weedy plant which although carrying up to ten individual flowers, presents a distinctly straggly appearance in the field. As with O. untchjii and O. tetraloniae the flowers are small but with lateral lobes that are generally very well developed.  The pictures date from the first week of May.