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


O. persephonae
was first described by H. F. Paulus from Rhodes in 2001 and is named after the mythical Greek queen of the underworld, Persephonae. It belongs to the small three member O. blitopertha group alongside O. blitopertha itself and the newly described and very similar O. urteae.
 
O. blitopertha and O. persephonae are also very alike and both find a home in the eastern Aegean,  although the former is rather more widespread in a range that takes it from the Cyclades, through the Aegean basin into Anatolia. The latter species is at its most frequent on Rhodes where O. blitopertha is not thought to occur, the range of the two species can however overlap in a limited area of the Aegean and more commonly in Anatolia.

Differentiation can be difficult but distinguishing them is most easily achieved by study of the plants growing position. O. blitopertha is slender (often weedy) with few flowers and will be growing in a full sun position. O. persephonae on the other hand will rarely (if ever) tolerate such an open, arid position and is usually to be found in open pinewoods or shady verges.

As can be seen from the illustrations O. persephonae can be variable, it is however a robust orchid of 30-40cm with up to 10  individual flowers that tend to be rather more colourful and with thicker lip hair than O. blitopertha.  The  stigmatic cavity is usually larger and the speculum less dull with a more pronounced lower crescent. We would however stress again that all these characteristics can be difficult to detect in the field and that habitat and stature seem to be of most significance.
 















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