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Ophrys cerastes

O. cerastes  was first described from Ioannina (Greece) by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2004 and  named after what is probably its most significant feature, the extremely long horns. It's perhaps the most common of its group with a range that takes it from Anatolia, across the Aegean and through continental Greece to the Ionian islands.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of new species being added to the Greek list of scolapaxoid Ophrys and correctly separating these taxons becomes ever more complicated. In many cases these species helpfully have a limited distribution but such is not the case with O. cerastes, which as already mentioned is widespread either side of the Aegean and throughout Greece, though mainly north of the Corinth Canal. Characteristic features include:- 1. Sepals strongly recurve with age. 2. A broad stigmatic cavity. 3. The speculum is normally full and complete but rarely particularly complex. 4. As already mentioned, very lengthy horns. 5. In comparison with O. cornutula, the plant is more robust and usually fewer flowered.

This is one of the smaller species within the O. oestrifera group and this feature serves to differentiate it from O. bicornis and O. sepioides with which it is often found growing. For the last decade there has been considerable debate with regard to the named variety minuscula which is an even smaller flowered variant occurring on an occasional basis within populations of O. cerastes. Some consider this as simply the smaller end of an intermediate community of O. cerastes but in 2010, Presser and Hertel formally promoted O. minuscula to specific status. The photographs are from various sites in north western Greece and date from mid April.