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

O. gresivaudanica
was first described by Reichenbach from Genoa ( Italy) in 1830 and is commonly known by the synonym O. brachyotes, meaning with short ears, a reference to the small lateral lobes. It is one of the commoner members of the thirteen strong O. tetraloniae group and its home is the sub-Mediterranean areas of southern France and northern Italy. The species can reach as far north as Switzerland, but it is probably at its most frequent in the Maritime Alps and Alpine foothills of Vercors and Ecrins.

As with most members of this group, identification is not always easy and there are several other species with which it may be confused. The most important feature of this particular species and the group generally is the characteristic, complete band of submarginal hair encircling the lip. Despite its synonym, this species cannot be reliably differentiated by lateral lobe measurement, as these are not consistently very short and in any event, other species can often exhibit similar characteristics. Lip shape is highly variable and can range from fuciflorid to scolopaxoid, though usually vaguely or clearly three lobed.

Another important distinguishing characteristic is its small size and this is readily apparent in the field, even where a comparison cannot be made directly with other species. Petal length can vary but these are usually on the long side, though rarely to the extent of its close cousin O. linearis . They are frequently wholly or partially of darker colouration than the sepals, most particularly at the base.

The photographs are from several lower alpine valleys to the south and west of Grenoble, dating from the first week of July. This is one of the latest flowering Ophrys in France.