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Ophrys lacaena

O. lacaena was first described from Lakonia, Greece by Delforge in 2004, being named after Leda, Queen of Sparta (Virgil nicknamed her Lacedaemoniun). This species is a member of the large and expanding O. bornmuelleri group of Ophrys being also known to some authorities by the preferred synonym O. candica ssp lacaena.

Although once thought to be more widespread, this species is now considered to have a range limited entirely to the Lakonia region of the Peloponnese in Greece. Its distribution is centred on the coastal town of Gytheio, thus putting the species future at considerable risk due to extensive local tourist development. O. lacaena is an orchid of shady oak woodland where it is not uncommon and co exists with similar O. bornmuelleri group members O. graeca, O. candica and the much scarcer O. cytherea. Morphologically these species can sometimes be difficult to separate as perianth colouration, specular pattern and labellum shape are not reliable differentiators.

O. lacaena
does however offer three distinctive features that can help identify it. It is the first of the four species to flower and the earliest plants can be completing their cycle as the other taxons are commencing theirs. At 10 to 16 mm, it is the smallest flower and usually exhibits a smaller appendage. These features must however be viewed flexibly as there can be considerable overlaps with the other species. O. lacaena is easily recognizable as an O. bornmuellerii group member by virtue of the complete and often dense marginal ring of light coloured hair around the lip. The photos are from an inland site in the vicinity of Gytheio, dating from the second week of April.