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

This attractive Ophrys was first described from Sicily in 1840 and its somewhat eccentric name refers to the shape of its appendage. It is a member of the seven strong O. fuciflora group.

O. oxyrrhynchos has a limited range, being confined to Sicily and  southern Italy, whilst only in the former, is it in any way common (and then only locally). Its habitat requirement is the usual Mediterranean calcareous terrain which in Sicily it shares with several other fuciflorids such as O. biancae,  O. calliantha and the more elusive O. lacaitae. Those going to Sicily in search of the latter species without specific intelligence  would do well to concentrate their explorations in sites that hold numbers of these other species.

O. oxyrrhynchos is not a significantly variable orchid (in its genetically pure form) and in Sicily the rusty brown, trapezoid lip and green sepals (often lightly washed with pink) are fairly reliable indicators of the species identity. O. biancae will often exhibit these same features but its smaller size and earlier flowering will generally act as an easy differentiator of the two orchids.

In continental southern Italy, the main source of confusion would be O. celiensis, which many regard as a stable hybrid between O. oxyrrhynchos itself and O. apulica. This species is however confined to a limited area of Puglia and the chances of mistaken identity are therefore equally limited.

The pictures are all from central and southern Sicily and date from the second and third weeks of April, at least two weeks after O. biancae and a week or more before O. lacaitae and O. calliantha.