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

caloptera was first described from the the Rhone Valley by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2006, having been previously known as a late flowering population of the widespread O. passionis.

This latter species, together with O. arachnitiformis and their various recognized forms have been widely studied over the last decade, but despite this, experts have reached little consensus as to an accurate nomenclature and species positioning for these Spring flowering Ophrys of southern France and northern Spain. Given this lack of consensus it's difficult to present a definitive description of the species and so, until the position becomes clearer,  O. passionis, O. caloptera and O. occidentalis are regarded as the most widely accepted individual taxons capable of being visually and geographically separated. The position is however unsatisfactory and requires examination at a genetic level rather than opinions (no matter how highly respected) that at the time of writing, are based largely on morphological and geographic data.

O. caloptera remains within the O. incubacea group whereas O. passionis (the original early flowering wave) has been moved to the O. exaltata group. The two species are extremely similar in appearance and not easily separated from one another, other than by the fact that O. caloptera is a generally stronger growing, more robust plant in all its parts. Most importantly however, flowering does not normally commence until late April or early May, by which time O. passionis could have already been in bloom for over a month.

Until things become clearer we will confine a description of range to southern France and northern Spain. The pictures here come from the Cevenne and date from the second week of May.