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Ophrys ortuabis


O. ortuabis was first described from Sardinia by Grasso and Manca in 2002 and belongs to the thirteen strong O. funerea group of Ophrys. Its name refers to the Ortuabis Pass in the central region of Sardina.

This species is endemic to Sardinia and is both highly localised and extremely rare. It is probably at its most frequent, perhaps even confined to the Laconi region of central Sardinia where it can be found in small colonies on rocky garrigue and invariably in the company of Rosmarinus officianalis (photo six illustrates this association very well). Sardinia hosts four (non yellow) Psuedophrys that are found only there or in neighbouring Corsica. In flower size order these are the tiny O. ortuabis itself, the small O. funerea, the medium sized O. zonata and the large O. eleonora, this being a convenient rough guide by which to differentiate them.

O. ortuabis is, as mentioned above, a truly tiny orchid, not at all dissimilar to the Rhodes endemic and fellow group member, O. parvula, and as such, is unmistakable and easily distinguished from other of the Sardinian Pseudophrys. Its choice of habitat dictates that few other Pseudophrys associate closely with it, other than O. lepida, which is easily differentiated by its greater size and overall yellower appearance. O. ortuabis is a small, spindly plant producing two or three flowers, immediately recognizable by both their size and the usually broad yellow margin surrounding a dark brown lip. It is an early flowerer, appearing in March and finished by early April, at a time when most other Sardinian orchids, bar Gennaria diphylla are just starting their own flowering cycle.

The illustrations come from the Laconi district of Sardinia and date from the first week of April by which time they were already fading quickly.