John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys numida
O. numida is a newly recognized Ophrys having first been described by Devillers-Terschuren and Devillers from Tunisia as recently as the year 2000. It may also be found in Algeria and Sicily and there are reports from mainland Italy (Gargano/Puglia) which some authorities consider convincing.  

This species is however the subject of considerable speculation at present and although its status in north Africa is currently accepted, its existence in Sicily is under close scrutiny with expert opinion very much divided. There are several possibilities being explored, including the view that O. numida is conspecific with O. sicula (just a larger flowered variant) or somewhat doubtfully, that it is actually O. lepida, a species newly described from Sardinia in 2005.

In Sicily, O. numida can easily be confused with the slightly larger flowered O. archimedea, a species which shares similar habitat and which frequently grows close by. They are both slender but sturdy plants and produce an inflorescence with similar flower numbers (3 to 8) growing alternately up the stem. The key difference is that O. archimedea is not just a bigger flower but possesses longer sepals. A further difference of note, is that in O. numida, the dark hairy zone of the median lobe is concentrated in the centre whereas in its cousin the dark pilosity spreads well onto the lateral lobes, often minimizing the yellow border. As can be seen from these pictures O. numida may have a large orange dilution zone around the darker area or it may indeed be totally orange/light brown and lack the darkness altogether.

It seems entirely possible, that future study will invalidate the distinction between these two species but they remain until further notice. The pictures date from the middle of April.