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

Ophrys apifera var.badensis

O. apifera was first described by Hudson from England as far back as 1762. Its name refers to the flowers similarity to a bee and accordingly the species has long been commonly known as the Bee Orchid.

It is a widespread orchid distributed across temperate and Mediterranean Europe as far east as the Caucasus. In its favoured locations it can be abundant and its choice of habitat is wide, ranging from the driest chalk grassland to wet, even swampy conditions. Whilst it prefers a full sun position, it will tolerate even significant shade. Sepal colouration is normally pale pink but white is not uncommon and in the Balkans, white can be dominant, with pink a real rarity. O. apifera is largely self pollinating and this autogamy is responsible for the frequent appearance of variants, some of which, although not of evolutionary significance, occur on a sufficiently regular basis to have acquired formal varietal status.

O. apifera var. badensis was formerly known as O. apifera var. friburgensis but in 2005 Baumann proved that the name friburgensis applied more correctly to the variety then known as botteroniia. A 2012 paper by Lewis and Kreutz then denominated the now nameless taxon badensis, this being a reference to Baden from where the holotype originated. This is one of the rarer variants being found sparingly throughout the range of the type species and differing from it, in the length and colouration of the petals. As in O. apifera v aurita , lip pattern and shape is normal but the petals are actually sepaloid, being larger, more rounded and with the smoother, less hairy tissue texture of sepals. In the UK this variety appears to be restricted to the southern counties and the pictures here are all from Dorset, dating from the middle of June.