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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 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 March at the same time as O. incantata, at least two weeks before the Istrian based O. tommasinii. It has a marginally shorter flowering period than O. incantata and is normally declining by mid April, though this season can extend to the first week of May at higher elevations. As has already been mentioned it is an uncommon species, being found in short grassland, garigue and abandoned terraces on calcareous substrates.
Separating the two early flowering Dalmatian species is difficult and not made any easier by the natural variation inherent in both. There are however three easily detectable but unreliable characteristics that will sometimes differentiate them. The first is the relative size of the basal swellings where O. liburnica usually exhibits significant enlargements relative to O. incantata which normally has little more than minor or often imperceptible enlargements. Secondly the marginal hair in O. incantata is lighter in shade and more attenuated at the distal end. The broad yellow marginal banding seems more usual and more prominent in O. incanata. Both species share similar habitat preferences although O. liburnica will rarely stray into neutral soils, being a strict calciphyte.