Ophrys speculum subsp. lusitanica

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

Ophrys speculum ssp. lusitanica close up

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 speculum ssp. lusitanica whole plant


Ophrys lusitanica, has a fragmented distribution centred in the Algarve region of Portugal. It is known to occur in the Extremadura region of Spain.

Ophrys speculum subsp.lusitanica, Algarve, Portugal

There is a further subspecies of the Mirror Orchid called Ophrys Regis-ferdinandii which is endemic to some of the eastern Aegean Islands and which looks very similar to Ophrys lusitanica.


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.

Flowering times

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.

Reference sources

The Plant List

Sue Parker (2023) Wild Orchids of the Algarve - where, when and how to find them; First Nature e-book (Amazon Kindle format)

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

Sue Parker's latest ebook is a revised and enlarged edition of Wild Orchids in The Burren. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's new ebook is a comprehensive and fully revised edition of her acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of Wales. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's 5-star acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of the Algarve is now available as an ebook. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Please Help Us: If you have found this information interesting and useful, please consider helping to keep First Nature online by making a small donation towards the web hosting and internet costs.

Any donations over and above the essential running costs will help support the conservation work of Plantlife, the Rivers Trust and charitable botanic gardens - as do author royalties and publisher proceeds from books by Pat and Sue.

© 1995 - 2024 First Nature: a not-for-profit volunteer-run resource

Please help to keep this free resource online...

Terms of use - Privacy policy - Disable cookies - Links policy