John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

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 cannot readily be confused with any other Ophrys apart from its rarer close relatives O. regis-fernandii and O. vernixia with  which there are some limited overlaps in range. 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 orchid 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 named  orientalis and variety klosii from Greece which has a blue and  white mirror. 

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







.