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

This new species was first described from Portugal by Lowe and Tyteca in 2012 and is a member of the O. fusca group of Ophrys. It is named in honour of the eminent 20th century Portuguese botanist, A. R. Pinto da Silva.

As far as is currently known O. pintoi is limited in range to a small area of central Portugal in the vicinity of Coimbra where it grows in very localised but sometimes huge colonies in garrigue and grassland on calcareous soils. The flower is extremely similar to that of O. fusca and really only distinguishable from it by its significantly smaller size, a feature that applies to both the individual flower and the plant itself. This is a useful identifying characteristic given that the two species can be found growing together.

O. pintoi is a few flowered species sometimes developing just a single bloom and most typically not more than three. These are produced in early Spring from mid February  to March but as yet the pollinator has not been identified, though given the smaller size of the flower it is unlikely to be the same as for O. fusca. It is considered at present that O. pintoi has evolved from O. fusca and that as a result of adaptation to a new and smaller pollinator, has itself contracted.

The photograph opposite comes central Portugal and dates from the last week of March at which time it was one of the last viable flowers in the colony.