John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys crabronifera

This endemic Italian species was first described from Rome in 1820 by Mauri and its name means "bearing hornets", whether this suggested a resemblance to the insect is unknown. 

O. crabronifera is a variable plant both in its shape and colouration but is nonetheless distinctive enough to be readily distinguished from most other Ophrys species that one might encounter gorwing in its vicinity. Perhaps the most significant exception to this occurs in the west of Italy and most particularly in the areas around the Mount Cilento and Mount Pollino National Parks, where its range marginally overlaps with that of the locally common O. pollinensis. This latter species is a fellow member of the thirteen strong O. argolica group but is less spindly than O. crabronifera and with flowers that are usually smaller and invariably with a more complex speculum.

The range of O. crabronifera is a matter of some conjecture with Delforge stating it extends from Livorno south to Rome, whereas others maintain it reaches, but is then replaced by O. pollinensis south of Naples. We have to observe however that we have found both species growing within yards of each other in the Cilento National Park and this therefore suggests that the distribution delineation is not yet fully understood. There is no doubt however that O. crabronifera is at its most numerous in the western Provinces of Tuscany and Lazio .  

The  pictures  here  are from Tuscany (predominantly Monte Argentario) and Cilento, dating from the last week of March in the former location and the end of April in the latter.