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Ophrys doerfleri

Although first discovered on Gavdos Island in 1904, O. doerfleri wasn't formally described until Fleischmann's 1925, posthumously published paper that had been based on the original pressed specimens collected in 1904. At this time the species was closely linked to O. cretica.

In 2005, Helmut Presser studied several Cretan colonies of what were thought to be the typical Greek O. mammosa but it was eventually concluded that these plants were in fact the same as those collected from Gavdos and named O. doerfleri. By way of complication Messrs Baumann and Lorenz (also in 2005) had separately been reviewing this species and named it O. mammosa subsp falsomammosa. Given that the original name (O. doerfleri) had been incorrectly linked to a species of the O. reinholdii group, falssomammsa may be considered more appropriate and the name that goes forward. Nonetheless it has now been agreed that O. mammosa does not occur on Crete and that currently the group is represented by O. doerfleri. Some authorities believe that O. doerfleri is an ancient intermediate between O. mammosa and O. spruneri.

This species is smaller flowered than O. mammosa, the plant itself more spindly and its sepals are generally lighter in colour. The sepals, whilst usually split into typical O. mammosa group colour hemispheres, can often be a uniform green which gives the flower a close resemblance to O. gortynia. It is reported that around a third of all flowers possess pink sepals, this being a feature unknown outside Crete and adding weight to the postulation of its link with O. spruneri.

The photographs date from mid April at which time the plants were just coming into flower and were taken in  eastern Crete where the species is considered most common.