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

O. molisana was first described from the Molise region of central Italy by Delforge in 2015. Despite its recent formal recognition, this new species has been known to the botanical community for many years and variously misidentified as other similar taxons including O. brutia, O. majellensis and O. sphegodes all of which share some similar features.

That said, O. molisana is not an easy Ophrys to distinguish and exhibits several variable characteristics which can lead to misidentification. Not least of these variabilities are the basal swellings which can be significant or not present at all. A 2017 study by Romieg Soca established that within the study area 40% of the flowers did not have discernible "humps". Sepal colouration can vary from green to pink with large petals that may be concolourous or flamboyantly shaped and washed in a similar way as O. garganica. The stigmatic cavity and basal field colouration normally matches or is only slightly lighter than that of the central labellum and the specular pattern, although large, is rarely more than a straightforward H .

O. molisana, like O. brutia has a complete marginal ring of hair but whist in the latter this is of a similar thickness all round, in the former it is significantly weaker in the distal area. The lip is usually entire with a yellow or sometimes orange/red margin and a small triangular yellow appendage that is seated in a deep notch that often obscures its presence altogether. Its range is centred on Abruzzo, Latium and Molise where it can be relatively common.

The photographs all come from the L'Aquila area of Abruzzo and date from the first two weeks of May.