John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Ophrys species Links

Ophrys schlechteriana

O. schlechteriana was first described from Attica (Greece) in 1927 and is a member of the O. heldreichii group of Ophrys. It is named in honour of the late 19th century German botanist, R. Schlechter.

This orchid is endemic to Greece but its exact distribution limits are not known with any great accuracy due to its close resemblance to both O. sepioides and O. ceto which share range and habitat preferences. It is however known with certainty that large populations occur in eastern Greece, notably Attica and around Athens where one of its strongholds is Mount Hymettus on the northern outskirts of the city itself. Healthy numbers also occur in the central islands of the Cyclades but as far as is known, not elsewhere in the Aegean archipelago.

As with O. heldreichii, this is a large flowered, robust orchid that although localized, can be abundant in its favoured locations where it prefers a position in full sun on alkaline soils. Unlike most other members of its group, the lateral lobes (horns) are well developed and can be up to 10mm long in some cases. This lobe elongation produces a flower that closely resembles several members of the O. oestrifera group but O. cornutula and O. cerastes can be differentiated by their smaller size.

O. schlechteriana is at its best from April to May, producing up to ten individual flowers on a tall spike that can reach to 50 cms. The photographs here come from Mount Hymettus, near Athens and date from the beginning of May at which time they had only just started to bloom.