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Ophrys rhodostephane


O. rhodostephane was first described from the island of Hvar, Croatia by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2004 and is a member of the largely eastern Mediterranean, O. oestrifera group of Ophrys. It's name literally translates to "with a pink crown", this being a reference to the long and often strongly coloured, back pointing sepals.

This species has a very limited distribution from central Dalmatia (including the larger offshore islands) down to and including the north of Montenegro. Although widespread within this range, it is often rare and seldom if ever seen in great numbers, usually being found as scattered individuals. An exception to this is the island of Hvar, where the species can be frequent and where it comes into contact with the similar O. pharia. It will tolerate a wide range of habitats on most suitable calcareous substrates, particularly those with a moisture retentive character. The plants illustrated here, come from two loose colonies, one in shady mixed woodland and the other in open, rocky garrigue in full sun. It can come into flower in early April but more normally appears towards the end of that month, being at its best in May.

The scope for confusing O. rhodostephane with other species is limited, given that there are few similar species with an overlapping range. Outside the island of Hvar, the only taxon that is likely to create any doubt is O. minuscula, which is far from common and has only just been recognized as growing in central Dalmatia. It is however easily distinguished from O. rhodostephane by the much smaller size of the flowers and the less robust appearance of the plant. Reference has already been made to the strongly coloured sepals of O. rhodostephane and this is a further important diagnostic feature.

The pictures are from the Drnys region of Croatia and date from the first week of May.