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

santonica was first described from Charente, France by Mathe and Melki in 1994 and is a member of the O. tetraloniae group of Ophrys. Its name means "from Saintonge",  this being the specific location in the department of Charente where it was initially recognized.

It has an unusual distribution from the Bordeaux region of western France across to the southeast around Alpes Maritimes. Within this range it is highly localised and can be absent from many apparently suitable locations. Apart from being strictly an orchid of calcareous soils, its habitat preferences don't seem to be particularly demanding and so the large gaps in distribution are not easily explained.

O. santonica (like many of its O. tetraloniae group cousins) can be of variable appearance and particularly in terms of its lip shape. It has a scolopaxoid form though occasionally rather more fuciflorid with the margins of the lip only partially reflexing backwards, forming an open pleat at the rear.   

In its moe usual scolopaxoid form it can resemble O. scolopax  and when more open O. vetula . The average lip length of O. santonica is smaller than the others but this is marginal and unreliable, as are the mean sepal and petal dimensions. Sepal colouration does however provide a clue as O. santonica rarely exhibits dark pink sepals,  pale pink, white or white with a pink flush being much the commonest complexion, the reverse applies in respect of the other two species.

The pictures are all from Alpes Maritimes and date from the beginning of June.