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, southern Peloponnese, Crete and has been recently found in Cyprus.

It is a very similar plant to O. ariadnae and on Crete the two species are known to hybridize, though the scope for this is restricted by limited overlap of range and differing flowering times. 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, creating the appearance of a neck. In O. ariadnae, it widens at the base or at least rises straight up from the shoulders. A second distinguishing characteristic is the significantly more complex and extensive specular pattern which in O. cretica is often little more than an embellished white edged H.

Commencement of flowering varies but O. cretica, sometimes appears up to a month later than its close relative. They both however bloom for lengthy periods and can easily be found flowering concurrently, though rarely 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 impressive horn like appendages.

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