John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys zinsmeisteri

O. zinsmeisteri was first described as a sub-species from Rijeka, Croatia by Fuchs and Ziegenspeck in 1928 and is a member of the , O. heldreichii group of Ophrys. It is named after J. Zinsmeister, a noted early 20th century Bavarian botanist.

This species is endemic to Croatia and has a very limited distribution in eastern Istria and the larger islands of the Quarnero archipelago. Although very localised within this range, it can often be found in significant numbers, usually growing singly in loose colonies over a large area. It will tolerate a wide range of habitats on suitable calcareous substrates, particularly in open woodland where there is a degree of light shade. This species seems to show a preference for oak-hornbeam forests where the mycorrhiza of this orchid enjoy an as yet not fully understood relationship with the roots of these species of tree. A study by Devillers and Devillers- Turschuren reported finding instances of O. zinsmeisteri growing in concentric circles around the base of tree trunks in a similar way as the rings of some fungii. It comes into flower in early April but more normally appears towards the end of that month, being at its best in May.

O. zinsmeisteri is a distinctive Ophrys with large flowers and proportionately large sepals that are always  characteristically pink and often a deep purple reminiscent of O. rhodostephane. It is usually distinguishable from O. medea, O. untchjii and O. tetraloniae (all of which can occasionally exhibit pink sepals) by flower size but O. fuciflora is also present in the south east of Istria and this can create difficulties, as the flowers are of a similar size and colouration. The newly described O. istriensis could also be problematic but as far as is currently known there is not an overlap of range.

The pictures are all from the Kavran district of Istria, dating from the second week of May.