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Ophrys tenthredinifera v praecox

O. tenthredinifera v praecox  was first described from the Portuguese Extremadura in 1908 and its varietal name literally means "early". 

This variety is difficult to separate from O. tenthredinifera  itself and attempting to portray differences by means of photography is hard to achieve.  The dissimilarities are small and best observed in the field,
ideally with both species and variety in close proximity. This situation would however be difficult to manufacture given that flowering times do not coincide very closely, with O. tenthredinifera v praecox  coming into full bloom in January, and being well past its best in March.   Although in favourable conditions O. tenthredinifera may be found in flower in late January, in the areas of overlap between the two types it is  more usual  to see flowering  start in late February or March. The likelyhood is that the two plants will rarely be found in their prime together and this in itself is a key to identification.
A second important differentiator is size and this becomes very apparent in the field, with the variety being noticeably smaller in all its parts. The plant itself is less robust and carries fewer individual flowers, often just one or two. The flower is narrow shouldered and possesses much reduced basal swellings ; the appendage is similarly reduced but this feature is  a difficult one to detect.  Overall, O. tenthedinifera v praecox  presents a rather dull appearance in comparison to O. tenthredinifera but in instances of an overlapping flowering period, the former can easily be confused with weaker specimens of the latter.

This variant is currently known from central Portugal and in just a few stations further south, it is however believed that it probably occurs unrecorded throughout the range of O. tenthredinifera.