John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys levantina

O. levantina was first described by Golz and Reinhard from Limassol, Cyprus in 1985 and it takes its name from the ancient region of greater Syria, the Levant, which comprised the area between Anatolia and Egypt and sometimes included Cyprus.

This species is a member of the large O. bornmuelleri group and its known distribution is the far eastern  Mediterranean from Anatolia to Israel and including the island of Cyprus where it can be abundant. It's a species that although sometimes found in full sun, decidedly prefers the semi shade of open woodland and will in fact happily spread into the deeper cover of a thick canopy.

As with most members of the O. bornmuelleri group this species has a complete ring of marginal hair which is as long on the shoulders as on the lower half of the lip. It shares this feature with fellow Cypriot fuciflorid O. aphrodite and given that the two species have a very similar distribution there is ample room for some confusion between the two. O. levantina is however an earlier flowerer and by the time O. aphrodite appears this species is well past its best. The former species starts as early as February whereas the latter will rarely be found before the middle of March.

There are also morphological differences between the two species and not least the speculum which in O. aphrodite is more colourful, more extensive and more complex. In O. levantina the specular pattern is seldom much more than a small "bow tie". The pictures all come from Cyprus and date from the first week of March, at which time the similar O. aphrodite had yet to appear.