|O. phryganae is one of 4 members of the O. lutea group and was first described from Crete in 1991. Its
name refers to the plant phrygana which gives its
name to a habitat type, particularly in Greece (in France it would be called garigue).
widespread through the central and eastern Mediterranean it is not
generally found in the huge numbers that can be the case with O. sicula and O. lutea. The
fact that it grows individually or in smaller groups and
large colonies of its commoner bretheren probably accounts in
part for its perceived scarcity. In fact
we suspect it
is a much overlooked orchid that is probably locally common.
Identification is not as difficult as one might at
first think and there are two important features to
look for when trying to differentiate it from its
cousins. The first of these is size, which is small and probably half that of O. lutea.
The second feature is the flower's side on profile
and picture 2 clearly shows the prominent basal prominences
which give the lip the look of a knee
joint. This characteristic is more difficult to
observe face on as can be seen
from the illustration opposite. O. sicula is a similar size but its longtitudinal profile is comparatively flat. O. phryganae
from Crete presents a distinctly different appearance by virtue
of its increased pilosity and this hairiness is not limited to the lip
margins but spreads to a greater or lesser extent across the
speculum. Again, picture 2 clearly depicts this feature.
these Cretan plants are conspecific with populations outside the island
has not been established but they are clearly at variance and as with
many other Cretan Ophrys may yet prove to be of evolutionary significance.