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

O. mycenensis was first described from Mycenae (Greece) by Hertel and Paulus in 2010 and is a member of the widespread and increasingly confusing O. oestrifera group of Ophrys.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of new species being added to the Greek list of scolapaxoid Ophrys and correctly separating these taxons becomes ever more complicated. In many cases the species helpfully has a limited distribution and such is the case with O. mycenensis whose range is restricted to the far eastern Peloponnese, Attica and nearby islands.

This species is one of the most convincing of the new arrivals and visits to Mount Hymettus near Athens have for many years had the authors scratching their heads over its identity. At first sight O. mycenensis immediately strikes one as a quite unremarkable, dark and somewhat dull Ophrys, paticularly when it is seen growing alongside its more showy cousins. It is undoubtedly variable but certain characteristics tend to prevail and there are perhaps three important features to look for. 1. The lateral lobes (horns) are short to medium in length and always point outwards, sometimes strongly. 2. The general body colouration is a dull chocolate brown, often appearing black from a distance. 3. The speculum is uncomplicated and often reduced to the point of being barely visible. It is usually comprised of a metallic blue H formation, lined out with an often extremely thin yellow border.

It is a relatively early flowerer which at lower altitudes can be found as early as mid March but at higher elevations can still be in bloom by late April.  The pictures are from Attica and Mount Hymettus, dating from the beginning to end of April.