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Ophrys herae

herae was first described from the Greek island of Samos by Hirth and Spaeth in 1992 and is named after Hera, the Goddess of women and marriage.

This is an uncommon member of the large O. mammosa group and is currently the subject of study in order to determine both its true status and its precise distribution. Until recently it was thought to occur widely in mainland Greece, the Aegean basin, Crete and Cyprus but its range was not known with certainty due to the species similarity to several other Hellenic Ophrys and not least the often abundant O. mammosa.

Identification can be a problem, especially on the island of Crete where there are many similar Ophrys from both within and outside the O. mammosa group. The most significant features in terms of recognition are the small size of the flowers and the spindly nature of the overall plant. The lip is normally a dark red which contrasts with the lighter coloured, often orange stigmatic cavity and basal field. As with other members of the O. mammosa group, the sepals are usually a very pale green with purple tinting present on the lower half. Basal swellings are prominent and hairless on the inner face.

As has already been mentioned this species is being closely studied and it seems that some reclassifications are inevitable in the near future. Current thinking is restricting O. herae to the Aegean island of Samos and as yet we are unaware as to how this leaves other Greek populations. The accompanying pictures are from mainland Greece and Crete and therefore offered as depicting " the orchid formerly known as O. herae " !