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

O. splendida
was first described by Golz and Reinhard from Bouches-du-Rhone (France) in 1980 and its name means nothing more or less than splendid (its common name is the Brilliant Orchid).  

This is a member of the interesting O. incubacea  group and has a restricted distribution in the Provence region of southern France, mainly centered on Var. A population of similar plants have been found in the north of France in Normandy but these are not thought to be naturally occurring and probably the result of a mischievous introduction. In its southern strongholds it's somewhat localised but can be found in good numbers in its favoured locations.

O. splendida can thrive in a range of conditions but always on calcareous soils and usually in grassland and woodland clearings in full sun. Its a distinctive Ophrys and despite some natural variability is unlikely to be confused with any other species. The sepals are virtually always pale and usually white with strong green veining, though picture 4 depicts a rare example with pink sepals. The petals are generally concolourous but often exhibit yellow to orange margins.

The lip is usually entire with a submarginal band of dark hair and a broad yellow, hairless margin. The stigmatic cavity has a broad, lime-green specular stage that often reaches and sometimes encompasses the dark pseudo-eyes. Basal swellings may be absent or well developed.

 The photographs all come from the area around Bagnols-en Foret (Var) and date from the second and third weeks of May.