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

This Ophrys was first described by Delforge from Malta in 2000 and was named O. caesiella where "caes"  refers to the bluish grey colouration of the speculum and "ella" to the small size of the labellum.

It is found only on the islands of Malta and Sicily, being extremely local on both. In Malta where it is known commonly as the Maltese brown orchid, it can be found at only two sites in the north of the country, although these populations can be quite large. In Sicily its full range is not fully understood due to confusion with other similar species, but so far it has only been found (very sparingly) in the south of the island.

O. caesiella is a small member of the O. fusca group, which when it occurs in the form depicted in photos 1 to 4, is relatively easy to identify. This pattern and structure gives it an appearance that strongly resembles the north African O. gazella, which perhaps not coincidently was also first formally identified in the year 2000.

This is a distinctive orchid and a difficult one to find,  particularly as the flowers do not always appear
with the strong striation to the lip. This is apparent from the flower depicted in photo 5, which was found growing amongst a small colony of more conventionally marked examples. Its appearance, although having the marbled blue grey speculum, looks remarlably similar to a member of the O. subfusca group.

The pictures all come from the south of Sicily and date from the second two weeks of April.