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

This species is a member of the O. omegaifera group first described by Alibertis and Reinhard from Rethymnon, Crete in 1990. Originally it was thought to be endemic to Crete but its range has now been discovered to include a small number of the islands of the Cyclades and an outpost further north in Chios. It seems likely that this somewhat disjunct distribution will be extended further in the coming years.

O. basilissa is frequently found in the company of its better known cousin O. omegaifera but is significantly larger in all its parts and may usually be easily distinguished. There are however many records of these two species hybridizing and intermediate populations are well known from Crete. Pictures four and seven display evidence of such genetic interference. The flowering cycle of this species is still not fully explained but the current view suggests that O. basilissa blooms in two waves, an early one from the beginning of February and again from March to April.

O. basilissa possesses one of the largest Ophrys flowers and one which can be of variable appearance, typically it is stouter than O. omegaifera, lip colouration darker and the speculum both shinier and often lightly patterned. A further differentiating  characteristic is that the lip strongly curves throughout its length whereas O. omegaifera exhibits a flatter mid section. 
O. basilissa is not at all common anywhere in its range but is nonetheless relatively unfussy about its habitat, thriving in full sun or the light shade of open pine woods, though always on calcareous soils. The pictures are from eastern Crete and date from the second week of April.