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

O. tardans was first described from Lecce, Italy by Danesch and Danesch in 1972 and is a member of the O. tenthredenifera group of Ophrys. Its name refers to the lateness of its flowering.

Its range is reported as restricted to southern Puglia and most particularly to the Province of Lecce around the coastal town of San Cataldo. Whilst it is currently not uncommon here, it is becoming less frequent in a region where tourist development and agriculture is increasingly making orchid habitat scarce. O. tardans is a stabilized hybrid between O. candica and O. neglecta and as is usual with such hybridogenous species, the individual characteristics of each progenitor are exhibited in varying proportions. O. neglecta is a small flower whose perianth and lip are usually pale in relation to the somewhat gaudy colouration of many of its fellow group members. Typically O. tardans is a larger flower with darker pink sepals and a browner lip, all these features being more reminiscent of O. candica. It is nonetheless unmistakably an O. tenthredenifera group member. This brings us back however to the species distribution which although most authorities consider limited, is undoubtedly wider. Some of the accompanying photos come from areas significantly outside of southern Puglia including Cilento and Campobssa. It may be that these are occasional hybrids which have not evolved unique pollinators, they are nonetheless indistinguishable from O. tardans.    

The single most important identification feature is the speculum, which unlike the usually simple unadorned necklace found in O. neglecta, is invariably augmented to a greater or lesser degree by the distinctive candicoid, cream blotching so characteristic of O. candica. It should be stressed however that in some cases these markings can be minimal or even absent.