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

O. minutula was first described from Lesbos in 1989 by Golz and Reinhard and its name refers to the very small size of its flowers. It is a member of the burgeoning and increasingly confusing O. oestrifera group.

Its range is not understood with absolute certainty but is best known from the eastern Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos, as well as adjacent areas of the Turkish mainland. It seems not to reach as far south as Rhodes where the similar O. dodaekanensis is the dominant small O. oestrifera group representative. To ensure a degree of confusion, this latter Ophrys which was once thought to be endemic to Rhodes, has now been recognized from both Chios and Lesbos.

O. minutula is slender but can be 35cms tall with as many as 10 flowers arranged loosely up the stem. The lateral lobes are most typically short but there are populations on Lesbos which have longer horns and appear very much like O. cerastes. Sepals are usually white or very pale pink but can occasionally be  darker. These sepals are virtually always strongly curved backwards and this is an important feature in identification. Another key characteristic is the inflorescence which is frequently (though not always) loosely one sided,  interestingly however this one sidedness only becomes apparent in maturity. O. minutula can be variable and at the extremes of variation, difficult to separate from other small group members but in its typical form, the combination of light coloured, narrow, swept back sepals and small size is usually a reliable indicator.

The illustrations are all from Lesbos and date from the first week of April.