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

This species was first described by Nyman from Aegina island, Greece in 1855 and takes its name from a  famous 19th century German botanist, Herr W. von Spruner.

O. spruneri is an endemic with a distribution extending the length of Greece from Macedonia down to Crete and from the Ionian islands across to Chios in the Aegean where it is not at all common however and seems absent altogether from the other major Aegean islands. The range of this species is centred on the Peleponnese, where along with many other taxons, its numbers have undoubtedly suffered from the widespread fires of recent years.

It is a somewhat variable species which can exhibit close similarities to both O. ferrum-equinum and O. mammosa, both of which occur commonly over much of its range. As can be seen from the illustrations the flower may be distinctly three lobed or with an almost entire lip, basal swellings may or may not be present but are generally insignificant. The key identification feature is the blue speculum lining which unlike close relatives, forms a complete H, reaching and surrounding the stigmatic cavity. Occasionally the crossbar may be missing and more unusually may be duplicated. The colour of the labellum ranges from a rich red to a dark mauve that can often appear virtually black.

It is a sturdy plant that can reach 40cms with up to 6 loosely arranged flowers and can grow in many habitats from full sun to mid shade. The photographs are from the Peloponnese, northern Greece and Cephalonia (where it is extremely rare) and date from mid to the last week of April.