John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys apifera v friburgensis

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/garrigue 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 seems responsible for the frequent appearance of variant plants, some of which, although not of evolutionary significance, occur on a sufficiently regular basis to have acquired formal varietal status.

O. apifera v friburgensis 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 noticeably longer and usually rather more thickset than the insignificant petals of O. apifera v apifera. With O. apifera v friburgensis however the petals are actually sepaloid, being larger, more rounded and with the smoother, less hairy tissue texture of sepals. Instances of plants with intermediate characteristics are not uncommon and the fourth picture depicts just such an example. In the UK this variety appears to be restricted to the southern counties and the pictures here are all from Dorset.