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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 characteristic horseshoe shaped speculum from which it also derives 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 sites, sometimes presenting a waving sea of dark, almost black flowers across swathes of otherwise featureless garrigue.

O. ferrum- equinum readily hybridizes with nearby Ophrys species and this coupled with its natural variability can sometimes make identification problematic. There are however several recognized forms and variations, of which "parnassica" is one of the more frequently encountered. It should be mentioned however that some authorities do not accept the validity of all of these taxonomic variations. 

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 the nominate species it seems to be particularly frequent in the islands of the Cyclades in the western Aegean.