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

O. tenthredinifera  was first described from Algeria by Willdenow in 1805 and its name literally means "bearing sawfly".  This species has long been commonly known as the Sawfly Ophrys.

It is a very similar species to O. ficalhoana and shares with it an almost identical habitat requirement and distribution.  It differs however in being a less robust plant, with less colourful and more narrow shouldered flowers that do not possess the dense tuft of long yellow/brown bristles immediately above the appendage. The appendage is also smaller and less prominent.  Other distinguishing characteristics include the much smaller basal swellings and the bracts which are usually greenish and not concolourous with the perianth as with O. ficalhoana.

The distribution of O. tenthredinifera is centred on the Iberian peninsula but with extensions into Southern France, the Balearics and parts of North Africa where it thrives in a range of conditions from calcareous to highly acidic substrates and in full sun or shade. It is worth bearing in mind when trying to differentiate this species from O. ficalhoana that although the two species may be found in virtually identical habitats, they do not commonly grow in close association with one another. Another key differentiator is the flowering period as although their is an overlap, O. ficalhoana is later than O. tenthredenifera, with the former not starting until April, by which time the latter will be some way past its best.  In the warmer areas of its range, it is not unknown for O. tenthredinifera to be flowering in January.

The pictures here come from Southern Spain and date from the 30th of March at which time flowering was well advanced.