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

O. cinnabarina
was first described by Romolini and Soca from Gargano in 2011 and its name refers to the cinnabar orange/red colouration of the basal field. It is a member of the predominantly western European O. tetraloniae group of Ophrys.

This is an orchid that has been known for many years from the heavily botanized Gargano peninsula, having always been viewed as an orchid whose characteristics did not conform to the known fuciflorid species of the region. It's perhaps surprising therefore that it took so long for the species to receive formal recognition. O. cinnabarina is endemic to southern peninsula Italy and more particularly the provinces of Puglia and Basilicata where it occurs in dry grasslands and open downy oak woodland. In 2014 the species was discovered in very small numbers in the Marturanum National Park in Latium.

In the southern areas of its range it comes into contact with several other similar species but differentiating them is comparatively straightforward given that this orchid exhibits some highly characteristic features. It is a large flowered species with a deep, cinnabar red basal field that sits below a slimy green stigmatic cavity containing small green pseudo-eyes. The perianth is invariably a pale pink, the petals often being slightly darker but always widely separated and very small. The specular markings are usually simple, basal swellings either reduced or rather feeble and the appendage large and prominent.

A further distinctive feature of the species is its late flowering which although widely reported as not commencing until mid May has, been reported (as here) in late April. Some of the accompanying pictures were recorded during a day of torrential rain and we must apologise for the low quality.