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Ophrys cephaloniensis

O. cephaloniensis was first described from the mountains above Valsamata, Cephalonia by Paulus in 2018. Initially the number of plants discovered were very few but as more sites have been located the overall known population is probably around 200. It is nonetheless, still a very rare species.

Recent years have seen significant changes and the addition of several new taxons to the Greek list of O. oestrifera group species and correctly separating these becomes ever more complicated. O. cephaloniensis is however one of the more distinctive new discoveries when in its typical form, this being dark lipped with minimal specular patterning and a large, pale red/orange basal field. The perianth can vary from deep purple to white but is generally pale pink. The flowers are small with well developed basal swellings that form outward pointing horns.

Its choice of habitat is usually rocky and dry where it appears intolerant of competitive vegetation. Alkaline soils are preferred and picture 5 serves to illustrate very well the often arid conditions in which it thrives. In one or two of its sites, it grows alongside O. cornutula  but although the two species are of similar size, with long horns, close inspection of the speculum will soon differentiate them. O. cornutula has a characteristically extensive and complicated pattern whereas O. cephaloniensis, whilst sometimes forming the odd lower ocellus, is generally little more than a simple dark blue H.

The photographs come from a site in the mountains overlooking the town of Komitata and where just three plants were discovered amongst numerous O. cornutula. They date from the second week April 2023.