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Ophrys untchjii

O. untchjii was first described from the Istrian peninsula, Croatia and is a member of the O. tetraloniae group of Ophrys. It's named after Untchj, the Croatian botanist who first collected the plant in 1907.

This species is thought to be endemic to Croatia, having a limited distribution in Istria, the larger islands of the Quarnero archipelago and localised areas of the central Dalmation coast around Split. Along with the newly described and larger O. istriensis, it is the first of the Croation fuciflorid species to flower, coming in to bloom in mid April, at least two weeks before O. medea and perhaps a month before O. dinarica and O. tetraloniae. It is not an uncommon species, being found in short grassland and abandoned terraces on most suitable calcareous substrates, particularly those with a moisture retentive character.

O. untchjii has a relatively long flowering period, spanning that of the other fuciflorids. Hybridization is therefore widespread and identification often complicated. One of the characteristic features of this Ophrys is the green perianth, an attribute which although once thought to be unique amongst Istrian species is now known to be shared with O. istriensis. In any event this feature is not totally reliable as the sepals can occasionally be white and in southern Istria, often pink. In the case of the latter colouration their is the possibility of confusion with O. fuciflora itself but they may be differentiated by the smaller size and proportionately larger appendage of O. untchjii.

Unlike O. medea and O. tetraloniae, this is a robust plant which can carry a large number of individual flowers and often grow in clumps. The flowers themselves are small with a distinctive transverse white bar joining the psuedo-eyes. The pictures date from the first week of May.