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

This tiny Ophrys belongs to the O. tenthredenifera group, but unusually within that grouping, is somewhat drab and inconspicuous. It was first described by Link from the Algarve, Portugal in 1800 and its name literally means "bee flower", its common name being the Bumble Bee Orchid.

In Greece it's commonly known as "arkoudaki" which translates to "little bear". This seems an appropriate  name for an orchid that really can resemble a tiny teddy bear. O. bombyliflora is not a particularly variable orchid and size seems to be the only feature which can in any way vary. It is however, unlikely to be confused with other species, though uncertainties can arise with hybrids, these being quite common and particularly so with other members of the O. tenthredenifera group. See O. bombylifera hybrids.

This is a widespread species that can be found throughout most of the Mediterranean from France (where it's a rarity) to Anatolia. It has also been reported from the Canary Islands where it is famously the sole representative of the genus Ophrys. It can occur in huge colonies and this is due in no small part to its ability to reproduce vegetatively. Unusually amongst Ophrys, it produces tubers at the end of a stalk, forming as many as six in a growing season and these eventually create a tangled underground mass of roots and bulbs.

O. bombyliflora prefers alkaline substrates but otherwise tolerates a range of habitat conditions from arid to damp and full sun to heavy shade. It will usually be found in flower from mid March through to May, the pictures here dating from early April and coming from Spain, Rhodes and Sicily.