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Ophrys aphrodite

O. aphrodite is a newly named, though not newly recognized species from Cyprus having previously been long known as the island form of O. bornmuelleri .

In late March 2012 Messrs Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren undertook an investigation into the Ophrys of Cyprus which when published was entitled "Ophrys of Cyprus. Diagnostic Characters, Relationships and Biogeography". This study concentrated on three main groups, Umbilicata, Mammosa and Bornmuelleri, putting forward the view that several of the non endemic species existing in Cyprus exhibited characteristics differing from populations elsewhere. Three species in particular were highlighted O. attica (possibly including plants previously considered to be O. rhodia) has now been reclassified as O. astarte. Plants of the mammosa group thought to be O. hystera do not conform to the Greek type but have not yet been firmly renamed. Finally O. bornmuelleri has been separated and renamed O. aphrodite.

The differences noted in all these species were not large and simple morphological inspection wouldn't easily reveal significant dissimilarities. The 2012 report was informed by the fact that Cyprus is considered much more isolated than either Crete or Rhodes and that as a consequence the virtually non existent flow of fresh genetic material to these non endemics must inevitably result in eventual speciation.

O. aphrodite can be separated from the similar O. levantina by its more complex speculum and also by its flowering period which is at least a month later. When O. aphrodite is in its prime in early April, O. levantina will have virtually finished. These picture date from mid March.