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Ophrys dodekanensis

O. dodekanensis was first described by Kretzschmar and Kreutz from Rhodes in 2001 and its name refers to the Dodecanese archipelago of which Rhodes is the biggest island.

This species was originally thought to be endemic to Rhodes but has subsequently been discovered (albeit rarely) on other of the Aegean islands and notably Chios, Samos and Lesbos. It is also thought to be present in small numbers in a few locations along the neighbouring Aegean coast of Anatolia, the full range of this species has however yet to be established.

O. dodekanensis is a member of the large and difficult O. oestrifera group which although local, can be abundant in its stronghold on Rhodes. Its close relative, the similar O. minutula, although common on other of the Aegean islands is not thought to occur on Rhodes and this therefore simplifies identification. O. cornutula however is widespread on all the bigger Aegean islands and being a similarly small-flowered Ophrys can be the source of some confusion. A key differentiator between the two species is the more colourful, complex speculum pattern and long lateral lobes (horns) of O. cornutula.

O. dodekanensis is only common on Rhodes but is nonetheless present on other Aegean islands and particularly Lesbos, where it and O. minutula can definitely, albeit rarely, be found growing together. O. minutula is though a somewhat weedy plant whereas O. dodekanensis is easily distinguishable by its larger leaf rosette and sturdy appearance. The flower of O. minutula is slimmer and significantly more colourful.  

The pictures are from Rhodes and Chios, dating from the first week of April.