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

O. archimedea was first described from Enna, Sicily by Delforge and Walravens in 2000 and is  unsurprisingly named after the famous Sicilian scholar and mathematician Archimedes. The species is endemic to Sicily where it is both local and uncommon.

In its typical form it is a relatively straightforward plant to identify although as with other members of the O. subfusca group, natural variation and genetic interference can frequently complicate identification. The first four photographs depict examples that exhibit all the characteristic features of the species and are therefore considered most representative. Sicily is an island on which the O. subfusca and O. lutea groups are very well represented, but it's perhaps the very similar O. numida and O. flammeola  that present the greatest difficulties. O. archimedea has significantly less open sinuses than either of these species and the dark, hairy area of the central lobe tends to spread into the lateral lobes with only minimal orange dilution at the perimeter. Unlike O. numida, it is a large flowered species with a relatively flat lip and a  speculum that is always light grey and often with a distinctive milky appearance. The base of the speculum is usually marbled and the tip normally finished with a well defined, contrasting omega.

As already mentioned, Sicily is rich in Pseudophrys including no less than seven of the "yellow Ophrys" and this has contributed to the creation of significant intermediate populations which complicate identification. It is also the source of considerable disagreement amongst experts as to the true number of taxa represented on the island.  The pictures are all from central Sicily and date from the third week of April.