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

O. samia was first described from Samos by Delforge in 2011 and is a member of the O. bornmuelleri group of Ophrys. Its name refers to the island of Samos, where this orchid is a very rare, endemic species.

This handsome, newly recognized Ophrys is at home in partly, or sometimes wholly shaded habitats growing individually or in very small groups, invariably on bank sides or inclined terrain. It appears to be restricted to just a few sites in the western half of the island and one of it's preferred habitats is the high wooded slopes that run, often precipitously down to the coast, particularly in the region of Karlovassi.

O. samia is distinguishable from other similar species by the height of the plant and its widely spaced, large flowers, often closely resembling the similarly rare O. malvasiana from the Peloponesse . It is the last of the islands fuciflorids to appear in mid to late April and at its best in early May, when other species are all but finished. The flowers are invariably fuciform, ranging in colour from reddish brown to yellowish orange and with either small or completely absent basal swellings. The petals are small and the sepals long, ranging in colour from very pale pink to lilac. The speculum varies from simple to complex but usually exhibits a blue base with heavy yellow lining and a partial or complete ocellus.

Population numbers are unknown but thought to be limited, possibly in the low hundreds but it is an impressive orchid well worth seeking out. The pictures date from the end of April at a time when they were just starting to flower.