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

Ophrys liburnica

O. liburnica was first described from Cres Island on the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia (Croatia) by Devillers and Devillers -Terschuren in 2004 and is a member of the O. exaltata group of Ophrys. It's name refers to the ancient northern Adriatic region of Liburnia.

This species is thought to be endemic to Croatia, although similar plants are found on the opposite side of the Adriatic (Gargano peninsula, Italy) which have yet to be formally identified. At present however it is only known with certainty to have a limited distribution along the Dalmatian coast, its islands and hinterland, where it is a very rare and localized species. It is the first of the Croatian Spider orchids to flower, coming into bloom in early April, at the same time as O. incantata, at least two weeks before the Istrian based O. tommasinii.

Separating the two early flowering Dalmatian species, as well as the marginally later flowering O. tommasinii is difficult and not made any easier by the recognition of new regional variants. These discoveries are being advanced by some authorities as new species despite evidence that they should be better regarded as geotypes or variants at best. Historically however O. liburnica differs in its larger basal swellings and in the lighter coloured marginal hair which is more attenuated at the distal end. The yellow marginal banding can occur in both species but is generally more common and more prominent in O. incanata.

 Both species share similar habitat preferences although unlike O. incantata, O. liburnicawill rarely stray into neutral soils, being a strict calciphyte. The pictures date from the end of April.