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

This species was first described by Fleischmann from Chania, Crete in 1925 and was at the time named O. sphaciotica by virtue of its discovery in the Sphakia region. Subsequent research by Kretzschmar and Kretzschmar has however determined that the species Fleischmann described was unlikely to be O. grigoriana and probably just a robust O. spruneri. The name O. grigoriana was therefore prioritized, this referring to the village of Grigoria which is at the heart of the orchids range.

This species is endemic to Crete and although it can turn up throughout the island, it is largely confined to the mountainous regions between Zaros and Akoumia, in the south of central Crete. The flower of O. grigorina is probably the largest of any Ophrys species but whilst this feature is diagnostic in pure populations of the species, such populations are few and far between. Apart from its distinctive size O. grigoriana is almost identical to O. spruneri and distinguishing the two by means of photography is virtually impossible. O. grigoriana is rarely found in pure populations and will most frequently be found growing in close association with O. spruneri, a curious phenomenon that is not fully explained by identical habitat preference. Inevitably intermediates are common and its for this reason that differentiating the two can often be impossible. If you regard O. grigoriana as pure only when lip length exceeds 30mm, it is a rare orchid indeed. If defined by a lip length over 15mm it is relatively frequent.

It is a variable orchid that can exhibit differing perianth and lip border colouration but which is quite consistent in having simple specular markings and an overall dark, sometimes nearly black lip. The flower does appear, both in the field and in photographs to be thicker set than O. spruneri.