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Ophrys  pollinensis

This is a member of the thirteen strong O. argolica group which was first incorrectly identified by Nelson and later corrected and formally described by Devillers-Terschuren and Devillers from Salerno in 2000.
O. pollinensis an Italian endemic whose range is limited to the region in the west of the country, south of Salerno and extending as far as northern Calabria. Much of this area is made up of the Cilento and Pollino National Parks and indeed the name of this Ophrys records its association with Mount Pollino.

It is a distinctive orchid and at the heart of its range is unlikely to be confused with other Ophrys species. In the more northerly areas of its distribution however, it marginally overlaps with the range of fellow group  member O. crabronifera. Differentiating the two can be difficult and some authorities believe that the two are in fact varieties of the same species whilst others accept the distinction and assert that O. pollinensis replaces O. crabronifera as one travels south. The authors don't have a firm view on this issue but can with certainty confirm that the two have been found growing together in the Cilento National Park, without any  evidence of intermediates.

Whilst the status of this orchid clearly requires further research it has been established that the species is of hybrid origin, with O. crabonifera, O. biscutella and possibly O. fuciflora as progenitors. The influence of the latter species would certainly account for the normally more conventional and less variable pattern of the speculum as compared to O. crabronifera. The pictures are all from the Cilento National Park and date from the last week of April.