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Ophrys elegans

O. elegans was first described from Agios Nikolaos, Cyprus in 1929 and its name simply means elegant.
It's a member of the distinctive O. argolica group and is endemic to the island of Cyprus where although local , can often be found in significant numbers. O. elegans is a highly variable species in terms of its specular pattern and colouration but its overall shape and configuration is such that its unlikely to be confused with any other Cypriot Ophrys.

This species is an attractive orchid but is both small in stature and spindly. The plant is few flowered with sometimes up to four but seldom more than two flowers which are small and appear less noticeable due to the strongly swept back sepals and labellum (see last photograph).

O. elegans is an early flowerer and can be found at sea level as early as mid February whereas plants growing at higher altitudes in the Troodos and Akamas peninsula, may continue flowering into early April. Its preferred habitat is open woodland though it appears to grow perfectly happily in full sun in the open fields surrounding the salt flats of the Akrotiri peninsula.

The pictures here all come from the high woodlands of the Akamas peninsula and date from the first week of March. As can be seen the flowers were in good condition and only just coming into bloom, with sepals that had not fully recurved yet. A visit to lowland sites for this species at the same time would have found the plants either dying or well past their best.