John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys phryganae v cretica
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).  

Although 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 often amongst 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.

Whether 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.