Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
Sometimes referred to by the synonym Ophrys vernixia, or simply as Ophrys lusitanica this subspecies of the Mirror Orchid Ophrys speculum is rare and localised.
The height of the plant is variable - it grows to between 15 - 50cm tall. Each inforescence carries up to 15 drab-looking flowers. The petals and sepals are green suffused with purple. The lip is the main distinguishing feature (from Ophrys speculum) and is recurved and deeply divided into three lobes. The two lateral lobes resemble 'arms' held out to the side of the central lobe. There is a greenish border to the lip which is fringed with rusty-brownish hairs.
Ophrys lusitanica, has a fragmented distribution centred in the Algarve region of Portugal. It is known to occur in the Extremadura region of Spain.
This orchid grows in stony habitats on calcareous substrates. In the Algarve it can often be found on the edge of footpaths and rough tracks.
It flowers slightly later than Ophrys speculum - from the end of March to the beginning of May.
This specimen shown here was photographed close to the coast in the Algarve in Portugal in April.
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 specific epithet speculum means 'mirror', a reference to the light-reflective patch on the labellum..The subspecies name lusitanica means 'of Portugal' - Lusitania was the ancient Roman name for Portugal.
The Plant List
Sue Parker (2014) Wild Orchids of the Algarve - how, when and where to find them; First Nature
Chris Thorogood and Simon Hiscock (2014) Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Algarve; Kew Publishing
Henrik AErenlund Pedersen & Niels Faurholdt (2007) Ophrys - The Bee Orchids of Europe; Kew
Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black
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...