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

O. riojana was first described from the province of Alpes-Maritimes, France in 1851 and is a member of the O. provincalis group of Ophrys. It was originally named O. quadriloba, this referring to the four lobed appearance of the flower. The site in France from which the type was established is thought to have lost its population and the species is now most strongly represented in the upper Ebro basin of northern Spain where it more usually referred to as O. riojana.

The full distribution of this species is very difficult to define as hybrid Ophrys colonies mimicking the taxon can appear almost anywhere. It is however thought to be present with some certainty from Corbieres, Catalonia and the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

O. riojana is a difficult species to define and one with which the authors have some doubts. It is assumed to be of hybrid origin and whilst many believe it derives from O. sphegodes sl x O. lutea, the definitve combination is a matter of disagreement. The various colonies show a great deal of variability with some flowers being vividly and exotically patterned whilst others are duller and can be barely distinguishable from a strikingly marked O. sphegodes. Features that seem to be consistent amongst the species are 1. The presence of a yellow lip margin which can often be quite broad. 2. The lateral lobes take the form of "flaps" and rarely swellings. 3. The specular pattern is always complex and in some cases extremely so.

This species is a relatively late flowerer and does not normally appear before the end of April. The pictures are from the Abruzzo National Park in central Italy and date from the  second week of May.