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Ophrys leucadica

This species was first described by Renz in 1928 from the Ionian island of Lefkada and its name refers to that islands ancient name of Leucade. O. leucadica is a common Ophrys whose range is centred on Greece, but extends also to the Turkish side of the Aegean basin as well as a remote outpost on the Croation island of Hvar. This isolated population does however exhibit some morphological divergence from the Greek and Anatolian plants.

The above distribution has however become a matter of debate, since the existence of O. leucadica in some of the eastern Aegean islands (notably Chios, Kos and Lesbos) has been called into question. Paulus, as part of his research into the O. attaviria group in these islands refers to O. leucadica as wrongly recorded and identifies them as O. bilunulata ssp sancti-isidorii. More study seems necessary in order to establish the  position but for the time being, O. leucadica should perhaps be regarded as known with certainty only from southern Greece, Peloponnese and the Ionian islands.
O. leucadica exhibits a strong central groove which is long, very wide below the stigmatic cavity and flanked by marked longitudinal prominences. It is generally a uniform brown colour with dense hairs and a yellow margin that can range from well defined to irregular and vague. Importantly, the lip is more or less convex, the tip being very strongly recurved. The lateral lobes are rounded and tightly tucked in, such that the sinuses are barely visible. O. leucadica is a robust plant with large flowers and this in particular, serves to differentiate it from the similar but significantly smaller O. perpusilla. The photographs are from Peloponnese and Cephalonia, dating from the first two weeks of April.