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

O. parvula was first described from Rhodes by Paulus in 2001 and is a member of the O. funerea group. Its name refers to one of the key characteristics of this species - its very small size.

This Ophrys was originally thought to be endemic to Rhodes but is now known to occur on Kos and may well be present on other nearby islands. On Rhodes it is confined to the southern tip of the island in the district of  Kattavia, where although very local, it is not particularly uncommon. As can be seen from the accompanying photographs, O. parvula is a highly variable species and is quite adept at impersonating other of the islands numerous Pseudophrys, most notably O. eptapigiensis and O. persephonae.

As has been mentioned earlier however, the key characteristic that separates this from all other Rhodian species is its size. Not only is it a short, spindly plant, the flower is tiny and can take the first time observer quite by surprise. The small size of this orchid is undoubtedly connected to the equally small size of its pollinator, Andrena tomora, this being one of the smallest bees in the region. The combination of this small stature and its highly restricted range make misidentification most unlikely although as with many of the Pseudophrys, recognition can often be complicated by hybridization.

It flowers concurrently with several other Rhodian species in March and April but unlike these others, it  does not tolerate higher altitudes and in fact seems to be most at home in the low lying coastal areas which form a large proportion of the habitat in this part of the island.

The photographs are all from southern Rhodes and date from the first two weeks of April.