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Ophrys tetraloniae

This species was first described from the Istrian peninsula, Croatia by Teschner in 1987 and is the title member of the O. tetraloniae group of Ophrys, being named after the Tetraloniae group of bees that are the main pollinators of this amily of orchids.

This species was originally thought to be endemic to Croatia, having a limited distribution in Istria and localised areas of the central Dalmation coast, it has recently however been found in the central Apennines of Italy. O. tetraloniae is the last of the Croatian fuciflorid species to flower, coming in to bloom from mid May, at least two weeks after O. medea and perhaps a month after O. untchjii. Commencing in late May, it is not at its best until mid June at a time when other Croatian orchid specialities will be long gone. The pictures here date from the second week of May when very few O. tetraloniae had appeared and we were lucky to find just three plants and three flowers that were sufficiently advanced.

Flowering time is a key factor in identification but their are other characteristics that are helpful. The basal swellings can be little more than raised bumps or at best, very reduced horns and this contrasts significantly with the normally strong, sometimes robust lateral lobes of the other Croatian fuciflorids. The sepals are most frequently white, though pink is not uncommon and green not unheard of. The overall lip shape is very square in mature plants, though this is not particularly well depicted in these photographs, which are all of newly opened flowers. The appendage is pointed with three distinct teeth unlike O. untchjii and O. medea where the appendage is multi-toothed.

The pictures are from Istria, dating from the 10th of May.