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

O. pharia was first described from Hvar, Croatia by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 2004. Its name refers to Pharos, the ancient name of the large Dalmatian Island now known as Hvar.

This is a highly threatened species, thought to be endemic not just to Croatia but specifically to the island of Hvar, where increasingly intensive agricultural methods are reducing the habitat available to the species which is now becoming extremely difficult to find, even in its former strongholds around Vrboska, in the central region of the island. Its presence outside Hvar is suspected but so far such reports are unconfirmed

The status of O. pharia is a matter of contention amongst experts with some leading authorities, including Stefan Hertel preferring to regard the species as an isolated population of the Italian O. apulica. There is little doubt that whether in its scolopaxoid or fuciflorid form, O. pharia bears a strong morphological resemblance to its cousin across the Adriatic in the Puglia region of southern Italy.

This is robust orchid with large flowers that feature characteristically square shoulders, supporting a pair of conical and usually sturdy basal swellings. The lilac to purple, green veined perianth is large, often backward pointing with long triangular sepals. The stigmatic cavity and basal field are relatively restricted and usually a reddish, rusty colour, being marginally lighter and less brown than the median lobe itself.  The picture dates from the beginning of May.