John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Ophrys regis-ferdinandii

Named after Ferdinand the first, King of Bulgaria, this little Ophrys originally rejoiced in the name of Ophrys regis-ferdinandii-coburgii.  It almost seems a shame that such a regal name has now been abbreviated, though whether the late monarch was entirely pleased to lend his name to such an unprepossessing flower is unknown.

Unprepossessing it may be but this rare little Ophrys possess a great deal of character and interest. As with its two cousins in the O. speculum group, it is a small plant and easily overlooked.   It occasionally grows to 25cms but is more usually somewhat shorter, though it can produce a good good number of individual flowers per spike and form many stemmed clumps.

It is a remarkably stable species but is promiscuous and regular hybridisation can create some peculiar looking results. On Rhodes, O.regis-fernandii can grow in close proximity to its near relative O. speculum and hybrids are relatively common. Its range is limited to  western Anatolia and the Aegean basin where it is present on Chios, Samos and Rhodes, though curiously absent from Lesbos.

Very much an orchid of full sun and dry calcareous soils, this species , perhaps unsurprisingly, does not seem to last in flower for very long. It appears early and can be in full bloom by mid March, at a time when O. speculum is still 2 or 3 weeks away from flowering. The pictures are from Chios and Rhodes, dating from the first week of April.