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

This Ophrys was first described by Golz and Reinhard from Taranto in 1982 and its name means "from Tarente", its common name being the Taranto Ophrys. O. tarantina is a member of the small O. lunulata group and is endemic to southern Italy, predominantly the Regions of Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria.

This is a variable but distinctive orchid with few other similar Ophrys occuring within its primary range. An exception to this position is the presence, albeit less commonly, of O. incubacea, which can normally  be distinguishable by its more pronounced basal swellings and more extensively white external stigmatic cavity walls. O. tarentina is a robust plant which can reach 50 cms but with a relatively small flower often reminiscent of O. bertolonii. The labellum may be entire or three lobed, with or without modest basal swellings and a normally green perianth, though this can sometimes be flushed pink. The speculum pattern is  normally indistinct or broken with the stigmatic cavity and basal field either dark red or more often black. Perhaps the most consistent identifying feature of this species is the complete ring of purple, brown hair that encircles the lip and which can often be extremely course. The lip is generally fringed yellow but this is only apparent in specimens that are less recurved. The appendage is triangular, bright yellow and sits in a deep notch.

This species is local but not uncommon, though as with most orchids in southern Italy, is decreasing due to habitat loss in the remorseless pursuit of ever bigger olive and orange plantations. All the pictures come from the area of Mottola in the Province of Taranto and date from the third weeks of April. Picture 11 is a curiosity and probably a hybrid though the other parent was not obvious.