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

oreas was first described from Rhodes by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2009 and is a member of the widespread O. bornmuellerii group of Ophrys.

The name of this species refers to the Oreads, who in Greek mythology were friends and protectors of the goddess Artemis when she hunted in the mountains. They were in fact specifically mountain dwelling nymphs and this reference gives a strong clue as to the preferred habitat of O. oreas. This species is endemic to Rhodes and is found almost exclusively in the pinewoods on the higher elevations of Mount Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias). It does occasionally stray a little further afield away from the cover of trees but never far from a shady position.

O. oreas has been known from this area for many years but until recently had been recognized, albeit with some uncertainty, as O. heterochila. The two species are undoubtedly similar and although there are some differences in pilosity, stigmatic cavity shape and bib colouration, there are few strong distinguishing characteristics. Given the current state of understanding of these two species, the probabilities are that if you find it in Rhodes its O. oreas, in Samos or Anatolia its O. heterochila.

It appears that the former species flowers rather earlier than the latter and depending on altitude and seasonal conditions, can be found in flower as early as late February. The photographs here date from the beginning of April at which time the plants were still in their prime. The ninth photograph below, depicts an unusual and striking hybrid - O. oreas x O. reinholdii.