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

O. zonata was first described from Nouro, Sardinia by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren in 1994 and belongs to the thirteen member O. funerea group of Ophrys. It's name refers to the strongly coloured and defined crescents encircling the speculum.

This species is endemic to Corsica and Sardinia where it's local but not uncommon, growing individually or in small widely spread populations on alkaline soils in full sun or mid shade. The flower is morphologically very similar to that of fellow endemic O. funerea and is really only accurately distinguishable by the larger size. of the flower and the greater height of the plant. Sardinia hosts four endemic (non yellow) Pseudophrys , these being (in order of flower size) the tiny O. ortuabis, the small O. funerea, medium sized O. zonata and large O. eleonorae. This progression is a convenient rough guide to differentiation.

Some authorities regard O. zonata and O. funerea as synonymous, being separated only by size, a factor which as with other orchid species can be attributable to nothing more than natural variation. O. zonata does however exhibit a distinguishing characteristic other than its greater size and this is its less communal nature. O. funerea invariably grows in colonies of at least twenty plants or more whereas O. zonata grows either individually or within loose, widespread populations in small numbers. Typically this species can be distinguished by the well defined speculum crescents and its more convex lip. O. funerea often imitates these characteristics however and they must be regarded as unreliable differentiators. The size of the plants and population density are the most dependable ways to distinguish the species.

The illustrations are fron Sardinia and date from the second two weeks of April.