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Ophrys sabulosa

This Ophrys was first described by Paulus and Gack from Palermo, Sicily in 2004 and was named after its pollinator (Andrena sabulosa). O. sabulosa is one of several Sicilian Pseudophrys that were being studied in the late 20th century, and as described under O. flammeola, is one of the species that has caused some considerable botanical argument, particularly between Paulus/Gack and Delforge.

There is still some difference of view regarding the relationship between this Sicilian endemic and both O. gackiae and O. lupercalis, where despite comprehensive segregation work, there remains a significant number of authorities who believe them all to be simply seasonally influenced morphs of the same species. In Sicily O. lupercalis is morphologically very like the endemic O. sabulosa although the former orchid is an extremely early flowerer and would be virtually over by the time the latter is starting to appear. It is just possible to find the two species flowering concurrently at different altitudes.

O. sabulosa is the largest of these similar Pseudophrys both in flower size and in the robustness of the plant itself. The longitudinal prominences are massive and not only give the lip a pronounced kink but also serve to emphasize the depth and width of the stigmatic cavity. These features together with the deep central groove are highly distinctive and in the field, leave one with the impression of a very sturdy, rugged Ophrys.

The  photographs are all from southern Sicily where it grows quite commonly on calcareous substrates in full sun. The species is a late flowerer by Sicilian standards and the pictures here all date from the second two weeks of April.