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

O. spectablis was first described as a full species by Paulus from Mallorca in 2011 and is a member of the O. tenthredinifera group of Ophrys. Its name literally means spectacular.

This is a species endemic to the Balearic Islands and very probably only found on the largest island, Mallorca. It is immediately recognizable as one of the Sawfly Orchids but can be distinguisheded from the similar O. tenthredinifera (which also occurs on the island) in several ways. O. spectablis is a sturdy plant with large, thickset flowers which can grow to a height of 30cms or more, the inflorescence is however lax with typically up to four individual flowers, widely spaced up the stem. Perhaps the most significant characteristic by which to separate the two species is the stigmatic cavity which in O. tenthredinifera is invariably black but which in O. spectablis is a somewhat sickly green, rarely brown.

It is a late flowerer and many O. tenthredinifera will be past their best as O. spectablis starts blooming, usually in early April. It favours calcarious soils but is otherwise tolerant of full sun or semi shade, being found in open garrigue, abandoned terraces and light woodland. On Mallorca it is much scarcer than its smaller cousin but can often be found growing in close association with it. This is perhaps unsurprising given that it is thought to have originally evolved as a result of O. tenthredinifera plants adapting to a larger pollinator. O. spectablis will readily hybridize and intermediates are relatively common.

The pictures come from Mallorca and date from the first week of April at which time most plants were still in tight bud.