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

O. speculum was first described from Setubal, Portugal in 1800 and its name refers to the mirror like speculum. This species has long been known to botanists by its common name, the Mirror Ophrys. This is one of the Mediterranean's most widespread Ophrys, occurring throughout the region but in varying degrees of abundance. It's considered an extreme rarity in France and northern Italy, being at its most common in the southern parts of its range in Greece, Spain, Portugal, North Africa and Sicily where, although sporadic, can occur in huge colonies.

O. speculum
is a small but distinctive orchid that is not readily confused for other Ophrys. An exception to this however is its rarer close relatives O. regis-fernandii and O. vernixia with which there are some limited overlaps in range. The distribution of O. speculum is wide but it can be curiously absent from seemingly suitable regions. In the Aegean it is present on Lesbos whereas on Chios and Samos it is replaced by O. regis-fernandii, whilst Rhodes maintains populations of both. As already mentioned this is a small plant and despite its distinctive flower, can be very easily overlooked in the field. It can grow to a  height of 25cms but is more usually no greater than 10cms, with a spike of perhaps 3 flowers. The flowers are relatively large and not hugely variable, although in the east of its range there is a darker variant orientalis and a variety from Greece klosii which has a blue and  white mirror. 

It can be found in varying types of habitat from open grassland to garrigue and light woodland, though always on alkaline substrates. O. speculum is not a rare orchid, but its a gem and its discovery never fails to brighten a day in the Med ! 







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