John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys bertolonii
(northern form)

This often abundant Ophrys was first described from Genoa (Italy) in 1823 by the eminent 19th century Italian botanist Antonio Bertoloni. In 2001 however, Romolini and Soca authored a paper in which they asserted the name O. bertolonii did not apply to plants from central and southern Italy, Sicily and southern Croatia which they considered a separate species and accordingly named it O. romolini .

The paper was only printed in French and outside that country the regional separation of O. bertolonii does not seem to have been particularly well received. It remains to be seen therefore whether or not this view is widely accepted. Whether it is or isn't, the plants depicted here, which are all from the northern regions of the newly defined range, geographically justify the original name O. bertolonii.

One of the key distinguishing features between the the two regional forms, is the longitudinal curve of the lip, which is most acute in O. romolini and which as can be seen from the pictures, is flatter in O. bertolonii. The O. bertolonii group generally is distinctive and readily identifiable, though distinguishing the individual species that comprise the group is less straightforward, particularly as in many cases there are considerable overlaps of range. In southern France O. bertolonii overlaps with both O. saratoi and O. aurelia, in northern Italy with O. benacensis, in the Gargano region O. romolini often grows side by side with O. bertoloniformis and in Sicily it encounters the very rare but very similar O. explanata .

The pictures are from Istria (northern Croatia), dating from the middle weeks of April. It is however quite possible to find O. bertolonii in flower at any time between March and June as it enjoys a long flowering period, closely associated with the variably timed emergence of its two pollinating bee species.