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Ophrys galilaea

O. galilaea was first described as a subspecies of O. lutea by Fleichmann and Bornmueller in 1923 and as its name suggests was discovered in the Galilee region of Israel. Over time the validity of this sub-species as a separate taxon was increasingly questioned and the name subsequently became a synonym of O. sicula.

In recent years however the name O. galilaea has again come to the fore via studies by, amongst others Pedersen and Faurholdt (2007) and Hennecke and Munzinger (2014) which in brief conclude that the O. sicula found in the eastern Mediterranean is not the same species as that occurring in more westerly regions such as Sicily and mainland Italy. It further suggests that the eastern Mediterranean species from Greece, the Aegean basin, Crete and Cyprus is O. galilaea, as described in 1923 by Fleichmann and Bornmueller from the middle east. The studies quote various minimal but measurable differences between the two species including pilosity, these characteristics are however difficult to display photographically.  

The orchid world and the authorities who inhabit it, have never needed much encouragement to disagree with a fellow expert's observations and the splitting of O. sicula has proved to be no exception. A search of the internet will quickly return a number of essays by orchid specialists who do not accept the findings and fully intend to continue to refer to the species as O. sicula, no matter which end of the Mediterranean it comes from.

The authors do not have a view on the issue and leave it to those with more scientific minds to ponder over, in the meantime we offer the attached pictures as representative of plants from the eastern Mediterranean that were formally labelled O. sicula and which may now be reclassified as O. galilaeae