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

O. hellenica is unmistakably a member of the O. lutea group of Ophrys and was first described by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2013 having previously been regarded as Greek O.lutea.

This species has come to formal recognition as the result of the reclassification of O. lutea throughout its range in mainland Greece and the Ionian islands. The key differentiating feature of the Greek population when compared to its more westerly and African relatives, is its size, the flower being significantly larger. The average length of the flower in O. hellenica can be some 2 millimeter's greater than that of O. lutea.

Size is not however the only dissimilarity and less obvious variations exist both in pilosity and specular markings. Pollinators are also known to be different. The precise range of this species is not yet fully understood and only known with certainty from southern Albania, mainland Greece from the far north to northern Peloponnese and the Ionian islands. North African populations are considered to be O. lutea and it is assumed at present that representatives of the group on Crete are similarly categorized.

The plant is robust and unlike O. lutea, seldom grows in significant colonies, most usually being found growing as individuals or in small groups and often accompanied by the considerably more numerous and appreciably smaller O. sicula. The pictures come from the Peloponnese and Cephalonia, dating from the end of March and middle of April respectively.