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

O. cretica was first described from Crete by Nelson in 1916 and is a member of the O. reinholdii group of Ophrys. It is a Greek endemic being found in the Cyclades, Karpathos, Laconia, Crete and has also been recently found in Cyprus.

It is a very similar plant to O. ariadnae and on Crete the two species frequently hybridize, producing populations of intermediates whose identity can be very difficult to establish with certainty. Even without genetic interference, natural variation ensures distinguishing between O. ariadnae and O. cretica is not always straightforward. In typical forms however, two features in particular serve to separate the taxons. The first of these is the stigmatic cavity which in O. cretica is constricted at the base and creates a "neck" like form, whereas in O. ariadnae, it widens or as a minimum rises straight up from the shoulders. A second characteristic is the tendency of the latter species to exhibit a significantly more complex and extensive specular pattern. In O. cretica the speculum is often little more than a simple white H.

Commencement of flowering does vary a little with O. cretica sometimes appearing up to a month later than  its close relative. They both however bloom for lengthy periods and can easily be found flowering concurrently, often side by side. O. ariadnae starts flowering as early as February and is normally over by the end of April whereas O. cretica usually begins in mid March and can be in full flower through May. In eastern Crete a sub-species can be found, O. cretica ssp bicornuta, in which the lateral lobes have developed into horn like appendages.

The pictures are all from Crete and date from the first two weeks of April.