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Ophrys virescens

O. virescens was first described from Var (France) in 1859 and its name literally means "turning green". In the past this species was referred to as O. araneola subsp virescens and there is little doubt that in locations where the ranges of O. virescens and O. araneola  overlap, there can be great difficulties in distinguishing the two species. It is a member of the large O. incubacea group of Ophrys.

O. virescens tends to be a less northerly plant favouring a more Mediterranean climate, most particularly in southern France and northern Spain, though the true distributions of both Ophrys are poorly known due to confusions between them. The extent of their respective ranges is not fully understood and the subject of considerable disagreement between the various authorities. It 1s however well established that there is an isolated and disjunct outpost of the species on the Gargano peninsula. The first four pictures are from this central Italian population which as can be seen, do not entirely conform to the species description of the French or Spanish populations ? It is rumoured that O. virescens is present in Tuscany but this has yet to be confirmed.
O. virescens is a variable orchid but possesses a few stable characteristics which serve to distinguish it from O. araneola and these are as follows:- 1. O. virescens gets it name from the greener, leafier nature of the stem and rosette. 2. It is a more robust plant with larger flowers. 3. The flowers often appear darker,  sometimes nearly black, giving the plant a very distinctive appearance. 4. It flowers earlier, usually in mid April. The pictures are from Gargano ( 1-4 ) and various sites in southern France ( 5-13 ) dating from the first and the last week of May respectively.

                        O. virescens x aveyronensis

                             O. virescens x aymoninii

                              O. virescens x splendida