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

O. mycenensis was first described from Mycenae (Greece) by Hertel and Paulus in 2010 and is a member of the widespread and increasingly confusing O. oestrifera group of Ophrys.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of new species being added to the Greek list of scolapaxoid Ophrys and correctly separating these taxons in the field becomes ever more complicated. In many cases the species helpfully has a limited distribution and such is the case with O. mycenensis whose range is restricted to the far eastern Peloponnese, Attica and some nearby islands.

Visits to Mt Hymettus near Athens had for many years got the authors scratching their heads over the identity of a dark lipped Ophrys that did not conform to descriptions of any members of the O. oestrifera group as it was then comprised and it was not till 2010 that Messrs Hertel and Paulus resolved the position . O. mycenensis is a rather unremarkable, dark and somewhat dull Ophrys, particularly when seen growing alongside its more showy cousins. It is undoubtedly variable but certain characteristics seem consistent and there are perhaps three important features to look for. 1. The lateral lobes (horns) are short to medium in length and always point outwards, sometimes strongly. 2. The general body colouration is a dull brown, often appearing black from a distance (it is commonly referred to as the Chocolate Ophrys). 3. The speculum is uncomplicated and often reduced to the point of being barely visible. It usually comprises a metallic blue H formation, lined out with an often extremely thin yellow border.

It flowers early and at lower altitudes can be found in mid March, whilst at higher elevations can still be in bloom by late April. The pictures are from Attica and Mt Hymettus, dating from mid April.