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

Until 1994, O. calypsus was considered simply a variety of O. heldreichii  but since that time has been given full species status and maintains three named varieties, Ophrys calypsus v. maxima, v. scolopaxoides and v. pseudoapulica. This position has recently changed again with v. maxima (which was always something of a "catch all" description) being redistributed into other classifications, principally O.  colossaea.

O. calypsus is a relatively common Ophrys and it will be no surprise to learn that it was named after the  Greek sea nymph Calypso, daughter of Titan and an important character in Homer's Odyssey. (See O.  homeri ).

Although a variable species (even within populations) its perhaps one of the easier Ophrys to identify in its typical form. Unfortunately however its distribution, which is centred on the eastern Aegean, brings it into contact with several other similar Ophrys and not least its own varietal cousins. Ingression has created  many intermediate populations and positive identification can often be difficult. This can be particularly so  when trying to separate O. calypsus from variety scolopaxoides.

Important  distinguishing  features are ;- 1.  The lip appears "plump" and rounded with a noticeably low  slung waistline.  2.  It has a strongly recurved lip ( with a yellow/orange margin)  which will often form a  pleat at the back (as scolopaxoides) but more usually sits like a pair of half closed curtains. 3. It has long  petals  which are generally concolourous with the sepals and importantly, contiguous at the base.

The photos come from the Aegean islands of Chios and Rhodes, dating from the first week of April.