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

O. dictynnae was first described by Delforge in 2005 and is a member of the O. tenthredenifera group endemic to the island of Crete. It is one of four new species that resulted from a study and subsequent splitting of the O. villosa complex.

Of the four new species, O. dictynnae is the first to bloom in mid January and has an extended flowering period that takes it through to March. Whilst most of the species will have completed their flowering cycle in early March, some plants will still be extant when both O. villosa and O. leochroma come into flower in the middle of that month. These two species are frequently difficult to separate but O. dictynnae should be easily distinguished from the latter by its fading condition at the time these close relatives appear.

O. dictynnae is not small, being similarly proportioned to O. leochroma, with light coloured sepals that range from white to the palest pink and invariably with concolourous petals. The stigmatic cavity is brown, basal field orange, the labellum yellow with a modest brown central area and there is a complete band of submarginal hair with a tuft above the appendage. Overall this species seems less variable than the other eastern Mediterranean O. tenthredenifera group members. This species is widespread across Crete and favours a position on dry, calcereous soils in full sun.

The single photo dates from the last week of March, at which time it was among the last survivors.