|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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O. panormitana is a Sicilian endemic whose name refers to its discovery in the province of Palermo
in 1842 (ancient Palermo was called Panhormus). The species is not however restricted to this region
and is known to be quite widespread around the island, being reasonably plentiful in its preferred sites.
It belongs to the 12 strong O. exaltata group and as can perhaps be gauged from the illustrations, is a
highly variable species. The ophrys with which it can most easily be confused is O. exaltata itself ,
particularly as it shares similar habitat preferences and will frequently grow side by side with its
close cousin. As well as the more usual Mediterranean habitats they both share a fondness for more
disturbed sites such as settled rock falls, quarries and road verges.
O. panormitana shares a very similar range of sepal colouration and marking which can vary from white
to light green and usually with noticable dark green veins . In O. exaltata however the sepals tend to
be more elegant and rather less stumpy in appearance. O. panormitana is generally more hirsute with a
more or less completely hair encircled lip. The lip can be entire, round, ovoid or strongly three lobed !!
Probably the most significant factor in identification is the stigmatic cavity which in this species has a
specular stage that is usually lime green (can be greyish), generally occupies most of the cavity area
and which can also surround the pseudo- eyes.
Hybrids with O. exaltata are not uncommon and several of the photos here show plants that could well be
so affected. The pictures were all taken in south east Sicily and date from the first two weeks of April.