John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys magniflora

O. magniflora was first described from Aude, France by Geniez and Melki in 1992 and is a member of the southern European O. bertolonii group of Ophrys. The exact taxonomic status of this species has not yet been satisfactorily established, with many authorities disagreeing on the nature of its relationship with both O. aurelia and O. catalaunica.

O. aurelia is distributed from Bouches-du-Rhone through the coastal Provinces as far as the Portofino peninsula in Italy. Its range is not thought to overlap with O. magniflora whose distribution is confined to the more south westerly provinces, primarily Aude. Some botanical opinion believe these two species are simply geotypes and morphologically there is little to separate these two large flowered taxons. O. catalaunica is confined to a limited area in Catalonia and interestingly, in just a few sites across the border in Corbieres. Once again some experts do not accept the distinction between O. catalaunica and O. magniflora and thus by extension, there must be a valid case to consider all three species synonymous.

O. magniflora is, as already mentioned, a large flowered species with a lip that is on average some 3mm longer than that of O. catalaunica. Despite much research however, it is hard to find consistent supporting evidence for other suggested differences, such as petal width and speculum position. Study of many photographs of these species seem to show a good deal of variation but few characteristics that are unique to any one of the three species. An exception to this is the frequently observed deeper perianth colouration of O. aurelia.

The photos here depict large flowered plants from Aude which following current taxonomy, are therefore assumed to be O. magniflora, they date from the middle of May.