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

O. hebes was first described from Taygete (Peloponnese) by Kalopissis in 1975 and is a member of the huge and ever expanding O. mammosa group of Ophrys. It was named in honour of the eminent Athens professor Hebes Kouyeas.

This species is endemic to Greece being found plentifully both in the mountains of the Peloponnese and also in the mountainous north west of the country centered on Epirus. Although it can grow in huge numbers in its favoured sites it is very localised and absent from large areas of seemingly suitable habitat.  In the north of its range its distribution overlaps with several very similar species and hybridization has commonly been recorded (with O. zeusii, O. negadensis and O. cephalonica in particular).

O. hebes is most easily distinguished from the above species by the smaller size of its flowers and the spindly nature of the plant itself. A further characteristic that can usually be strongly indicative is the complexity of the speculum when compared to the generally more straightforward "H" pattern of the other taxons.  In O. hebes the pattern is often extensive, complicated and frequently fragmented with multiple ocelli. As has already been mentioned however, genetic interference is widespread and natural morphs of other species can create convincing lookalikes.

This species is an early flowerer and can first appear in mid March although April would be considered its prime flowering month. It shares this timing with the equally early blooming O. cephalonica and both these taxons will be in decline by the time O. zeusii, O. epirotica and O. negadensis appear. The pictures are all from northern Greece and date from  mid April.