Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
Ophrys sphegodes subsp. araneola is a robust plant growing to around 50cm in height. Up to 15 flowers can appear on each infloresence, and the lips of the flowers are distinctly lobed often having a yellow border. Occasionally the sepals are tinged with brownish-pink.
The distribution of Ophrys sphegodes subsp. araneola is unclear due to confusion with other closely related orchids. As far as is known, this plant mainly occurs in France and is most common in the Pyrenees and in the mountains of the Cevennes.
Ophrys sphegodes subsp. araneola grows in a range of habitats but always on alkaline substrates. Open sunny woodlands, unimproved grassland and the edges of rocky paths in France are good places to look for this distinctive orchid.
This orchid flowers from the end of March up to the beginning of May, often at the same time as other closely related orchids making the problem of accurate identification even more problematic.
The plants shown on this page were photographed in the Cevennes, near to Florac, and near to Saint Remeze in the Ardeche at the end of 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 sphegodes comes from ancient Greek seems to suggest a wasp-like appearance of the flowers of this orchid., while the subspecies name araneola is a reference to orb-waving spiders of the genus Araneus.
The Plant List
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
Les Orchidees de France, Belgique et Luxemborg; Parthenope Collection
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.