Ophrys apifera x Ophrys insectifera - Ophrys x pietschii
(Hybrid between Bee orchid and Fly orchid)

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae

Ophrys apifera x Ophrys insectifera hybrid, Ophrys x pietschii

Above: Ophrys apifera x Ophrys insectifera. Photographed in May by Elaine Hagget...

From time to time hybrids occur between wild orchids, and they are nearly always between closely related species. Because of the enormous variation which naturally occurs in orchid flowers it is sometimes difficult to decide if an unusual looking flower is truly a hybrid or just the subject of variation or mutation within a single species.

Another difficulty in accurate identification of wild orchid hybrids is that some orchids with the same parents may look entirely different and this can result from the direction of the cross: in the case of Bee Orchid x Fly Orchid it is assumed that the Bee Orchid was pollinated by an insect travelling from the Fly Orchid and not the other way around.

Ophrys apifera x Ophrys insectifera, Ophrys x pietschii

Above: Close up picture of the flowers of the Bee Orchid x Fly Orchid hybrid. Picture by Elaine Hagget...

Despite the difficulties described above there can be little doubt as to the parentage of the orchids photographed on this page. This extremely rare (in the UK) orchid hybrid is known from very few sites in Hampshire, Somerset and W. Sussex. It flowers from late May and into June.


The genus name Ophrys comes from Greek and means 'eyebrow' - a reference to the hairy fringe of the lip of the flower of many orchids in this genus. The origin of the hybrid name pietschii is unknown to us.

If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...

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