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

Ophrys algarvensis

O. algarvensis was first described from the Algarve region of Portugal in 2003 and its name refers to the   species connection with this area. This is an uncommon member of the O. omegaifera group and belongs to a set of three species which reside in the western Mediterranean, primarily in the Iberian peninsula where they have become isolated from their largely Aegean based cousins. 

The other two members are O. vasconica and O. dyris and its the introgression of this latter species by O.   fusca s.l. that would seem to be at the root of the formation of both O. algarvensis and O. vasconica. It   should be mentioned however that this hybridogenous background is still very much hypothesis and work remains to either prove or disprove the theory. The species can be found in Andalucia (Spain) and the Algarve (Portugal) but it's not a common orchid in any part of this limited range. In both of these areas it seems to significantly outnumber O. dyris which tends to suggest that the absorption process by O. fusca s.l. is well advanced. 

O. algarvensis is a distinctive species quite easily identified in the field by the complete lack of a groove in the throat at the base of the lip. In this respect it is very similar to O. mirablis and indeed the flowers as a whole share a close resemblance, there is not however believed to be any close genetic relationship between the taxa. Occasional hybridisation between O. dyris and members of the O. fusca group is well known but offspring can be readily distinguished from O. algarvensis by the grooved throat (see O. dyris x fusca ).

The pictures come from Malaga, dating from mid April.