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

O. pallida
was first described in 1810 by Rafinesque from the Palermo region of Sicily and was originally thought to be one of the many orchids endemic to that island. It has now been recognized however that O. pallida is in fact the same species as was known from Algeria as O. pectus and following the paper produced by Messrs Lowe, Gugel and Kreutz in 2007, the name O. pectus is now regarded as a junior synonym of O. pallida. The population of O. pectus from Tunisia has now been reclassified and renamed O. carpatina.

Notwithstanding this extension to its known range, this species is rightly regarded as a very rare Ophrys being at its most frequent in a small area of western Sicily, centred on the beautiful Ficuzza Forest. It can be relatively easy to find,  generally growing in small colonies, sometimes over a wide area and often in association with another of the area's specialties, Dactylorhiza markusii. Although as can be seen from the illustrations it is variable, it's impossible to mistake O. pallida for any other Pseudophrys. The strongly convex centre, large longitudinal protuberences and recurved tip combine to give the lip the appearance of a strongly bent knee joint. Its thought that the origins of O. pallida  are quite distinct from its fellow group members and may be very ancient,  possibly justifying a separate group status in its own right. Reports of hybridization are rare and populations seem largely genetically pure.

The species has a relatively long flowering period and can be found from early March through to mid May. All the illustrations are from the Ficuzza Forest to the south east of Palermo and were taken during the third week of April.