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

O. delphinensis was first described from Delphi (Greece) by Danesch and Danesch in 1963 and is a member of the O. argolica group of Ophrys.

This species is of relatively recent hybridogenous origin and as such can be highly variable in appearance. Its ancestral parents are considered to be O. argolica together with one of the members of the currently confusing O. oestrifera group. As can be seen from the photographs, it is the latter genetic donor that usually seems to contribute most significantly to the morphological appearance of the species.

Its identification is however reasonably straightforward, not least because this species is aggressively absorbing its original parent species to the point that in its northern Peloponnese stations, it is now unusual to see it growing in the company of either of them. O. delphinensis is always three lobed but lacks the "horns" associated with O. oestrifera sl and these lateral lobes are normally somewhat attenuated and covered with villous white hair, giving them a powder puff appearance. This dense white hair around the shoulders seems to be one of the few inherited characteristics of the O. argolica side of its parentage.

It is a late flowerer, starting to bloom in mid to late April when O. argolica has virtually disappeared. Its range is centred on the Gulf of Corinth, both to the north and south, but also further east as far as Euboea. O. delphinensis can be plentiful in its preferred stations but its presence is always very localised, being one of those Ophrys whose absence from apparently ideal locations is difficult to understand.

The illustrations come from the northern Peloponnese and date from the 27 th of April.