|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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|O. phryganae is one of 4 members of the O. lutea group and was first described from Crete in 1991.
Its name refers to the plant phrygana which gives its name to a habitat type, particularly in Greece
(in France it would be called garrigue).
Although widespread through the central and eastern Mediterranean it is not generally found in the huge numbers that can be the case with O. sicula and O. lutea. The fact that it can grow individually or in
smaller groups and often amongst large colonies of its commoner bretheren probably accounts in part for the its percieved scarcity. In fact we suspect that it is a much overlooked orchid that is probably locally common.
Identification is not as difficult as one might at first think and there are two important features to look for when trying to differentiate it from its cousins. The first of these is size, which is small and probably half that of O. lutea. The second feature is the flower's side on profile and pictures 1 and 4 clearly show the prominent basal prominences which give the lip the look of a knee joint. This characteristic is difficult to observe face on as can be seen from the other photos. O. sicula is a similar size but its longtitudinal profile is comparatively flat.
A further characteristic that differentiates it from O. lutea is the angle at which flowers are held
relative to the stem. With O. lutea this is usually no more than 45 degrees whereas both O. phryganae
and O. sicula hold them almost horizontally and ocassionally even beyond this.
The photographs are from Lesbos, Attica, Gargano and Sicily.