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Ophrys ferrum-equinum f parnassica

O. ferrum-equinum was first described by Desfontaines from the Greek island of Samos in 1807, and its name refers to the horseshoe shaped speculum pattern which also gives it its common name of the Horseshoe Orchid.

This species has a localized but wide distribution in the eastern Mediterranean, centred on Greece but reaching as far as Albania to the North, Crete to the south and Anatolia to the east. Although as has been mentioned, it has a very localized distribution, it can be abundant in its preferred locations,  sometimes presenting a waving sea of dark, almost black flowers across swathes of otherwise featureless garrigue.

O. ferrum- equinum is a naturally variable orchid, prone to genetic interference from other nearby Ophrys, with the consequence that identification can sometimes be problematic. There are however some recognized and named variations, of which "parnassica" and "subtriloba" are the most frequent. Some authorities also regard O. labiosa as another variation rather than as a species in it's own right.

O. ferrum-equinum f parnassica is recognizable by its entire lip and the usually white or green washed perianth. It is always to be found growing within colonies of the type species and although it can occur anywhere within the range of O. ferrum-equinum, it seems to be particularly frequent in the islands of the Cyclades in Western Greece.