|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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O. elegans was first described from Agios Nikolaos, Cyprus in 1929 and its name simply means elegant.
Its a member of the distinctive O. argolica group and is endemic to the island of Cyprus where although
local, it can be found in significant numbers. O. elegans is a highly variable species in terms of specular pattern and colouration but its overall shape and configuration is such that its unlikely to be confused with any other Cypriot Ophrys.
This species is a fairly undistinguished orchid that is both small in stature and spindly. The plant is few
flowered with sometimes up to four but seldom more than two flowers which are small and often appear
less noticeable due to strongly swept back sepals.
O. elegans is an early flowerer and it can be found at sea level as early as mid Febrauary whereas plants
growing at higher altitudes in the Troodos may continue flowering into early April. Its preferred habitat
is open woodland though it grows perfectly happily in full sun in the open fields surrounding the salt flats
of the Akrotiri peninsula.
The pictures here all come from the high woodlands of the Akamas peninsula and date from the first week
of March. As can be seen the flowers were in good condition and only just coming into bloom and with the
sepals having not fully recurved yet. A visit to the lowland sites for this species at the same time would have found the plants either dying or well past their best.