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

O. ausonia was first described from Latina, Italy by Devillers, Devillers-Terschuren and Delforge in 2004 and is a member of the widespread O. sphegodes group of Ophrys.

Although the overall plant may be relatively tall and thickset, the flower of this species is very small and the lip is particularly so, often looking disproportionate to the sizable perianth. The plant generally produces a good number of individual flowers (up to 12) which appear from early May through to June at a time when the often similar O. sphegodes is past its best.

O. ausonia is endemic to central peninsula Italy and although localised can be abundant in its favoured areas. It is perhaps at its most frequent in the belt from central Tuscany, through Umbria and Abruzzo to Molise, where it is to be found growing predominantly in grassy areas rather than the dryer, garrigue conditions more typical of eastern Mediterranean Ophrys.

As has already been mentioned the flower is small and drab with a normally simple dull blue or grey speculum, that is often lined out with a fine white edging. The stigmatic cavity is usually a brownish orange and lighter in shade than the centre of the lip, which usually exhibits a broad yellow band around the perimeter. The sepals are large being pale green in colour whilst the petals are slightly darker and often edged pink.

The pictures come from the Abruzzo region of central Italy and date from the middle of May at which time they were just starting to appear.