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

This is an orchid until recently thought to be endemic to continental Greece, with just one offshore outpost on the island of Euboea. O. calocaerina may turn up anywhere throughout northern and southern Greece but is at its most frequent in the central eastern area of the country from Corinth to Attica, being particularly common at Mt Hymettus on the outskirts of Athens. Interestingly, an isolated population has recently been discovered nearly 1000 kms away in Sicily.

O. calocaerina is an Ophrys that invariably finds a home in exposed habitat with dry, often arid conditions in full sun (rocky hillsides, garrigue, abandoned olive groves etc) where it grows individually or in small, very loose colonies. It is a highly distinctive and readily recognized member of the O. funerea group which at up to 50cms is one of the taller, larger flowered species, not just of this group but of the Pseudophrys as a whole. The labellum of O. calocaerina is large and divided by a deep groove that bisects the speculum and continues beyond, a feature strongly reminiscent of O. leucadica, an orchid with an overlapping range. A defining characteristic of this Ophrys is its speculum which can be of a simple pattern or really quite extravagant, always however colourful and frequently exhibiting distinctive splashes of plum red colouration.

O. calocaerina was first described by Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren from Viotia, Greece in 1994 and its name literally translates to "beautiful season". It is a late flowerer, appearing in April and depending on altitude often still in bloom throughout May. The illustrations are from the Attica region of Greece and central Sicily, dating from the end of April.