John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys oestrifera subsp montis-gargani

This orchid has been recognized from the Gargano peninsula for many years and until recently was known by several different names including O. cornuta and O. rhodostephane. The latter identity was thought to be part of a disjunct colony west of its normal and restricted Dalmation range across the Adriatic. This theory never fitted comfortably with many authorities and for several reasons, not least the larger proportions of the lateral lobes and the colouration of the sepals. In O. rhodostephane, sepal colour is predominently pink (and often vividly so) whereas with O. oestrifera subsp montis-gargani, white or very pale pink is the norm.

These uncertainties were eventually resolved in 2010 by a group of Dutch botanists headed by Van de Vijver and Van Looken who collected and formally described the orchid under the name of O. oestrifera ssp montis-gargani. Its distribution is not known with certainty but it has several stations within the Gargano peninsula and may well have a wider range on the south east coast of Italy. It is not however a common species and its presence is extremely localised.  

It is an Ophrys of alkaline habitats and shows a preference for a stony, dry soil, usually with a significant degree of shade. In the four sites known to the authors it is growing either in the cover of a thick hedge or in two of the cases, in shadowy clearings within relatively dense mixed woodland. This preference for alkaline woodland renders O. montis-gargani vulnerable and it is becoming increasingly threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation. 

All the photographs are from Gargano and date from the first week of May.