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

O. argolica was first described from Argos (Greece) by Fleischmann in 1919 and is the title member of the  O. argolica group of Ophrys. This species is a Greek endemic with a limited distribution primarily in
the mountains of central and eastern Peloponnese. It is also known from scattered stations to the north around Delphi and in Attica to the east of Athens. It has recently also been discovered on the slopes of Mount Hymettus within the precincts of Athens itself.

O. argolica is a distinctive orchid and unlikely to be confused with other Ophrys species except in just a few areas where its range overlaps with that of O. delphinensis. It is however reasonably straightforward to separate these two species, the most obvious difference being the overall shape of the labellum. O. argolica normally has an entire, orbicular lip that is slightly wider than it is deep whereas O. delphinensis presents an oval appearance that is usually strongly three lobed and reminiscent of O. scolopax. The latters assumed part in the O. delphinenesis hybridogenous ancestry is evident. The speculum patterns are also dissimilar with O. argolica possessing a simple pair of eyes or uncomplicated horseshoe and O. delphinensis, more elaborate markings, again suggestive of O. scolopax.

This is an early flowerer and is normally very much in decline by late April when O. delphinensis is in its prime. As has already been mentioned, the two species do overlap around the Gulf of Corinth, but O. argolica is steadily retreating in the face of absorption by the more aggressive O. delphiniensis. The pictures all come from the Peloponnese and photos 5, 11 and 12 depict a probable hybrid from the Megalopoli area. Interestingly, the most likely partner was O. nestoris. Picture 15 also depicts a flower of untypical appearance, exhibiting a slightly flared lip and a more oval overall shape.