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


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 is 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 can grow individually or in smaller groups and often amongst large colonies of its commoner brethren probably accounts in part for its perceived scarcity. In fact we suspect that it is a much overlooked orchid that is probably locally common.

Identification is not difficult and there are two important features that 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 pictures 1 and 4 clearly show the prominent basal prominences which give the labellum the look of a knee joint. In O. sicula the ongtitudinal profile is comparatively flat.

A further characteristic that differentiates it from O. lutea is the angle at which flowers are held relative to the stem. With O. lutea this is usually no more than 45 degrees whereas both O. phryganae and O. sicula  hold them almost horizontally and occasionally even beyond this. The photos come from Lesbos, Gargano and Sicily, dating between the end of March and last week of April.