Ophrys sphegodes

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Ophrys sphegodes
Ophrys sphegodes flowers.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Genus: Ophrys
Species: O. sphegodes
Binomial name
Ophrys sphegodes

Ophrys sphegodes, commonly known as the early spider-orchid,[2] is a species of orchid found on alkaline meadows and waste land. It is widespread across most of Europe and the middle East from Britain south to Portugal and east to Iran.[1]

In Britain, it is restricted to parts of Dorset, Hampshire, Kent and Sussex and is regarded as rare although where it is found it may be in stands of many hundreds of plants. It is classified as a British Red Data Book plant. Despite its apparent vulnerability, it has very successfully colonised the chalk spoil dumping grounds created near Dover at Samphire Hoe from the excavations of the Channel Tunnel. It forms stands of relatively short plants between 30 cm and 40 cm in April and May. The flowers have yellow-green sepals and a velvety brown labellum with a distinctive H marking so that the flowers much resemble an arthropod and especially a spider.


Many subspecific and varietal names have been proposed. At the present time (May 2014), the following are recognized, one of them apparently originating as a hybrid between two of the others:[1]

  • Ophrys sphegodes nothosubsp. jeanpertii (E.G.Camus) Del Prete & Conte - France, Spain, Balkans (O. sphegodes subsp. araneola × O. sphegodes subsp. sphegodes)
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. aesculapii (Renz) Soó ex J.J.Wood - Greece
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. araneola (Rchb.) M.Laínz - Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. atrata (Rchb.f.) A.Bolòs - from Portugal to Serbia
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. aveyronensis J.J.Wood - France, Spain
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. catalcana Kreutz - European Turkey
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. cretensis H.Baumann & Künkele - Crete and other Greek islands
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. epirotica (Renz) Gölz & H.R.Reinhard - Albania, Greece
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. gortynia H.Baumann & Künkele - Crete and other Greek islands
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. helenae (Renz) Soó & D.M.Moore - Albania, Greece
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. mammosa (Desf.) Soó ex E.Nelson - from the Balkans to Turkmenistan
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. melitensis (Nyman) E.Nelson - the Maltese islands
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. passionis (Sennen) Sanz & Nuet - France, Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, mainland Italy
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. sipontensis (R.Lorenz & Gembardt) H.A.Pedersen & Faurh. - Puglia
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. sphegodes - from Britain and Spain to Hungary and the Balkans
  • Ophrys sphegodes subsp. spruneri (Nyman) E.Nelson - Crete and other Greek islands

Photo gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.