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

This species was first described by Renz in 1928 from the Ionian island of Lefkarda and its name refers to that islands ancient name of Leucade. O. leucadica is a common Ophrys whose range is centred on Greece, but extends also to the Turkish side of the Aegean basin as well as a remote outpost on the Croation island of Hvar. This isolated population does however exhibit some morphological divergence from the Greek and Anatolian plants.

This is a variable orchid which readily hybridizes with other species of the Pseudophrys family and the accompanying photos serve to demonstrate the range of different guises it can adopt. There are however some characteristics that appear quite consistently and which serve as a good starting point in terms of identification. 

The central groove of the median lobe is long, very wide below the stigmatic cavity and flanked by marked longitudinal prominences. It is generally a uniform brown colour with dense hairs and a yellow margin that can range from being well defined to irregular and vague. Importantly, the lip is more or less convex, a feature that is particularly noticeable at the tip which is strongly recurved. The lateral lobes are rounded and usually tightly tucked in such that the sinuses are barely visible.

O. leucadica is a robust plant with large flowers and these features serve to differentiate it from the similar O. perpusilla.  The photographs are from Rhodes, Chios and the Peloponnese dating from the first two weeks of April.  It should be noted however that it can be in flower as early as mid March.