John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys colossaea

colossaea is a recently described species whose presence on the island of Rhodes was first formally recognized by Delforge in 2006. Up until this time the plants in question were thought to be O. episcopalis, although Delforge had already appreciated, when preparing his 2005 third edition,  that this was not the case and linked the species with O. calypsus under the synonym of O. maxima. 

This species now resides within the O. heldreichii group and although at present only known with certainty from Rhodes, very similar plants flowering at the same time have been discovered in Anatolia that may well prove to be O. colossaea. It is also entirely possible that this species may be present on other of the Aegean islands.

This is a tall Ophrys (up to 70cms) with large flowers and these characteristics serve as important diagnostic markers when trying to identify it. Another significant indicator is its flowering period, which does not start until at least the second week of April when O. calypsus and O. calypsus v pseudoapulica are past their best. The Rhodes endemic O. halia is also a later flowerer but its distinctive appearance makes confusion unlikely. O. colossaea can be a reasonably varied species but typically the median lobe is of trapezoid appearance with sepals that are distinctively long and triangular. The lip colouration ranges from rich chestnut to a deep mahogony brown and the speculum is normally uncomplicated and often drab. The sepals and petals are always concolorous and normally dark pink. 

The pictures are from Rhodes and date from mid April, at which time the flowers were only just appearing.