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

O. picta was first described from Serra de Arrabida (Portugal) in 1800 and its name means "painted". It belongs to the O. scolopax group of Ophrys and bears a close resemblance to O. scolopax itself.

This species is essentially an orchid of the Iberian peninsula but which can stray across the French border into the Pyrenees, as far north as the Corbieres. O. picta  may also be rarely found in Sardinia, Tunisia and possibly Morocco, its range is not however known with any certainty due to its similarity to other locally       occuring Ophrys. such as O. sphegifera. Although the labellum is very similar it differs from this species by virtue of the sepals which in that species are always greenish whereas in O. picta can vary from white to pale  pink. They are never a dark pink and this characteristic helps differentiate it from the more robust flower of O. scolopax.

The petals are usually long, thin, vaguely triangular and of a darker shade than the sepals. In the paler examples the base of the petals are often washed with a violet hue and this characteristic can be clearly noted in picture ten. The stigmatic cavity is large, usually dark brown to dark rusty red and the base is broad and less constricted than that of either O. scolopax or O. sphegifera.

O. picta
is an early flowerer (February to May) and is normally past its best when both the above Ophrys are in their prime.  Its a species of alkaline soils and although it will tolerate moderate shade,  clearly prefers a position in full sun.  The accompanying pictures are all from the Corbieres region of Southern France and the Province of Malaga in Southern Spain. They date from the middle of April by which time many of the plants were well past their best..