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


                                 Ophrys subinsectifera 
 

O.
subinsectifera was first described from Navarra, Spain in 1996 by Hermosilla and Sabando.  Its name  refers to the species similarity to the very well known O. insectifera,  otherwise more familiarly called the Fly Orchid.

This species is endemic to Spain and found only in a limited area of Navarra and very rarely in the adjacent province of Huesca.  Its status as a full species has been questioned by more than one expert but the discovery of its pollinator seems to have moderated the debate in favour of maintained specific ranking. There are however continued doubts and these predominantly surround the regularity with which this species hybridizes with O. insectifera and forms populations of mixed intermediates. These all to common occurences suggest that either the newly discovered pollinator of O. subinsetifera also visits O. insectifera or as seems likely, vice versa. Another consideration argued by the pro-variant lobby is the fact that O. subinsectifera is rarely (if ever) found growing without an accompanying population of O. insectifera.

In its pure form it is an easy species to identify and there are two distinguishing characteristics that help it stand out :- 1. The lateral lobes (arms) are very small and sometimes absent.  2. The plant is slender and very small in all its parts with the flowers themselves as much as half the size of O insectifera. The yellow margins are less reliable as a key differentiator as they can vary greatly in density and significantly can also be found in the O. insectifera variant luteomarginata.

The pictures are from Navarra, Spain and date from the last week of April at which time they were only just appearing.