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

O. ficalhoana  was first described from Extremadura (Portugal) by Gumaraes in 1887 and is a member of the   O. tenthredinifera  group of Ophrys.  Its name literally means "from Ficalhoa".

It is a species very similar to O. tenthredinifera  and shares almost identical habitat requirements and
distribution.  It differs however in being a more robust plant, with a more colourful and broad shouldered
flower that features a noticeable and dense tuft of long yellowish brown bristles immediately above the appendage. The appendage is also larger and more prominent.

Other distinguishing characteristics include the more developed basal swellings and the bracts which usually appear concolourous with the petals and sepals.

As mentioned earlier, its distribution is similar to that of O. tenthredinifera, being centred on the Iberian peninsula but with extensions into Southern France, the Balearics and parts of North Africa. Their is however some doubt amongst experts as to whether these African populations are indeed the same taxon. Both O. ficalhoana and O. tenthredinifera will thrive in a range of conditions from calcareous to highly acidic and in full sun or shade, but although the two species may be found in virtually identical habitat conditions, they do not commonly grow in close association with one another.

Although their is an overlap in flowering, O. ficalhoana is later than O. tenthredenifera, with the former not starting until April, by which time the latter will be past its best. The pictures here come from Southern Spain and date from the 12th of April at which time flowering had just started.