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

This is a member of the large and expanding O. oestrifera group which until 2004 was known erroneously as O. bremifera. The name "Ceto" comes from the Greek "Keto", meaning sea monster and from which was named the sea Goddess Ceto who was ill-famed as the incestuous mother of a family of little sea monsters called the Phorcydes. Quite what it was about this particular Ophrys that brought this infamous God to mind is unknown ?

As with many of the Greek, O. oestrifera group, this species can be naturally variable and will readily hybridize with other group species. In its typical form however, it can be a straightforward orchid to identify and there are three key features which assist recognition :- 1. it's a robust, albeit slender Ophrys, the flowers being large with a characteristically long lip. 2. it is one of the few members of the group that although variable, does not typically possess long lateral lobes (horns) 3. the stigmatic cavity is wide, being at least 50% of the lip width. A final feature though less diagnostic is the pseudo-eyes (and ridge between them) that are very pronounced.

Its can be found from the Aegean basin and through central Greece to the Ionian islands. There are however some question marks with regard to its status in the Aegean islands where on Chios and Lesbos, plants   previously thought to be of this species are being newly reclassified as O. masticorum or O. orphanidae. It is probable that this situation is equally applicable throughout the Aegean basin.
The illustrations are from Mt Hymettus, the northern Peloponnese and Chios, dating from  mid April.