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

O. celiensis was first described as a sub-species by Danesch and Danesch from Brindisi, Italy in    1970 and its name refers to the region in which it was discovered, Ceglie-Messapico. It is a member of the O. fuciflora group of Ophrys.

The validity of this orchids claim to full species status is the subject of some disagreement, but with most considering it to be of hybrid origin involving O. oxyrrhynchos and O. apulica. The appearance and extreme variability of this species undoubtedly give support to this theory but their are other factors that give the opposing view equal credence. Not least of these considerations is the fact that as far as is known, O. oxyrrhynchos has never been recorded from the limited area that comprises the range of O. celiensis. An additional and important counter point is the identification of Eucera graeca as this species unique pollinator.

Whatever its true status, O. celiensis is an impressive and often bizarrely marked Ophrys that may be found in a limited area of south eastern Italy centred on central Puglia. It has also been found, albeit very rarely, further north in the Gargano peninsula. In general appearance it can imitate either of its supposed parents and always exhibits an expansive speculum pattern that can be both colourful and complex. The sepals are most commonly purplish pink and frequently washed green, sometimes heavily so.

The photos are from Gargano and the Province of Lecce, dating from the second week of May.